Social media is a big part of many people’s lives these days, but for some it can be something they can’t live without.
It is used to stay in touch with others, keep up with the trends, and share milestones.
But for some, checking social media becomes a compulsion, or a need the user can’t control.
“I feel like if I'm not on it, I don't know what's going on,” said student Stephanie Katz.
Dr. David Greenfield is the founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction in West Hartford, and said many people find it difficult to not use social media.
“That you're using it to alter mood and consciousness. In other words, you're using it like a drug,” Greenfield said. “It has to interfere with one of the spheres of your life.”
It can impact every day responsibilities like work and school, and your social life offline.
Symptoms are just like any other addiction. Users have an increasing need for more time on social media, and feel anxious if they don’t have access.
“There has to be something about the idea of recording and broadcasting your life as a means to feeling whole,” Greenfield said.
Relieving that uneasy feeling is as simple as logging on.
“Life these days just revolves around it, you need it to contact people, you need it to be talking to your friends constantly,” said student Ben Knight.
Greenfield coined the phrase “Generation D,” with the ‘D’ being for digital.
The phrase describes the age group of people who have never lived without digital media technology.
When the real world and the stories told on social media become blurred, it can be tough to discern the truth.
Greenfield said studies show that 50 percent of people admit to lying on social media.
“Because social media is not real, it's a reflection of what people choose to share. So it's a skewed form of reality,” Greenfield said. “The reality that's expressed on social media is a reality that is fit for broadcast.”
Seeking help from a mental health professional is a good first step.
Often times, the best method to quitting the addiction is by giving it up.
“In general, once you detox off of it, you kind of get back to baseline,” Greenfield said.
Addiction to social media can cause changes in your brain, just like other addictions.
“It takes about a month probably for the brain to rebalance. Particularly the areas of dopamine that tend to down regulate from excessive internet use,” Greenfield said.
Once the user quits, or limits their social media use, the dopamine in the brain levels off.
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