Have you ever wondered why you constantly keep reaching out for your phone even if there is no new notification? Do you lock your phone when you get bored of the same news feed and again go through the same feed because you feel bored? If yes, then you may have noticed that you are busy going through your handheld devices while you are eating, watching TV, or even while having a conversation with your friends & family. Then all these activities might indicate that you are a social media addict.
Social Media addiction refers to the dependency on the digital world while ignoring the social interaction with the people in the real world. People constantly check and interact on social sites throughout the day. They are so much involved in creating memories in the digital world that they forget to live the moment. This kind of addiction interferes with the daily life activities and is replacing physical interaction with others. In this research paper, I will be elaborating on social media addiction, its causes as well as the consequences among the youths of Nepal which will distinguish whether you are just engaged in social media or an addict.
People with social media addiction show a similar pattern of behavior. Researchers have described symptoms such as excessive amounts of time spent online, difficulty in managing the time spent on the internet, becoming irritated if disturbed while online (Chou & Treuer 2001), getting complaints about time spent online, thinking of life as boring without the internet, checking social media sites before anything else, failed attempts to reduce time spent online, loss of sleep (Gencer,S.L & Koc,M, 2012,Pg 26). As per the researchers, this certain kind of behavior indicates that people might be inclined towards being a social media addict.
Being addicted to the world of social media is a problem that has affected the people around the globe. As per the Internet World Stats (http://www.internetworldstats.com/) Asia has the highest percentage of internet users with 44.7, second Europe with 22.7% then North America with 13%,then North America with 13 % and Latin America/Caribbean – 10.3 %, while the rest of the world with lower percentage of internet users (Milica N, Dragana Z, et al ,Vol 60,2012, Pg 550) . This statistics clearly show that Asian have more access to social media than the rest of the world.
As per the statistics of 2016, 4.9 million people of Nepal have access to the internet via any device type and connection. (Internet Live Stats, 20l6). In 2010 less than 2% of the population were using the Internet, which rose to 13% in 2013, and by 2014 15% of the population were using the Internet (Source: The World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.P2. January 29, 2016). The reason for the rapid increase in the use of internet might be the evolution of social media in the past decade. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, through the addition of interesting features has been famous among the people of Nepal.
Young people are more into social media than the adults as they are more adaptive of the new technologies. New products are specifically designed to appeal the emotion and culture in youth which makes youth the heavy user of these technologies.( Gencer, S.L & Koc,M, 2012), This, when combined with the sensitive development of adolescence period, can make teenagers likely to be involved in internet abuse. Similarly, when comparing the internet usage on the basis of gender, prior research indicated that male is more likely to become internet abusers than female (Morahan–Martin; Schumacher, 2000; Yang & Tung,2007).
There are several factors that make us addicted to social media. Most of the people start using social media because everyone else is on social media (Shaw & Black, 2008) and they have a fear of missing out. They start out as an innocent user, who only wants to see the world of social media and without realizing it becomes their world.
Some people may feel shy while having a conversation face to face. Social media provides them an opportunity to meet new people and make friends without having to speak directly. Similarly, social validation is an important part of a human being (Gencer L. 2012) where getting a like on Facebook or Instagram boost up their feeling. People compare themselves to assess feelings, strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and perspectives. Having your social connections reaffirmed makes you feel good.
We live a society where there is an obsession of self that drives us to update our status and photos we look good in of course. A study from Harvard University showed that self-disclosure online fires up a part of the brain that also lights up when taking an addictive substance, like cocaine.(Hodkinson, P., Lincoln, S. (2008). Social media has broken the barriers of time distance and visibility which allows the people to play different identities on the global platform and fit accordingly.
Can social media lead to various behavioral as well as physical problem students? In Scherer’s study (1997), 13% of respondents reported that Internet use had interfered with either their academic work, professional performance, or social lives. Among them, about 2% perceived the internet as having an overall negative effect on their daily lives. Similarly, in Young’s study(1998), dependents reported that excessive use of the Internet resulted in personal, family, and occupational problems similar to those experienced in other addictions.
Chief among these problems was time distortion, which even resulted in some physical complaints such as disrupted sleep patterns and fatigue. Students may also experience profound academic problems, eventually resulting in poor grades, academic probation, and even expulsion from universities. Other problems created by excessive Internet use include disrupted marriages and relationship problems.
Frequent headaches and even discomfort in the eyes, problems with falling asleep or staying asleep and turn in his sleep or start speaking while he is sleeping, fluctuating weight could either gain or lose weight without any obvious reasons, and contract disorders like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are some physical signs of a social media addiction. Recent statistics show that 63% of American Facebook users log on to the site daily, while 40% of users log on multiple times a day. We all have our own reasons for using social media. Some of us like to browse at other people’s status updates and photos, while others use the sites as a way to vent their emotions.
But according to Dr. Shannon M. Rauch, of Benedictine University at Mesa, AZ, one of the main reasons we use social media is for self-distraction and boredom relief. According to Enough is Enough (EIE) – an organization that aims to make Internet use safer for children and families – 95% of teenagers who use social media have witnessed forms of cyberbullying on social networking sites and 33% have been victims of cyberbullying. But Dr. Rauch believes it is not purely the use of social media that is getting out of control, but our need to be electronically connected at all times.
Although many studies point to the negative impacts of social media on mental health and well-being, some researchers say they could have the opposite effect. Social networking sites could be a useful tool in identifying individuals with mental health issues. Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study from researchers at the University of Missouri, which claimed that Facebook activity may be an indicator of a person’s psychological health.
Some studies have suggested that social media use may even improve mental health and well-being. The team found that people who shared few pictures on the site communicated less frequently had a longer profile and fewer Facebook friends, and were more likely to experience social anhedonia – the inability to encounter happiness from activities that are normally enjoyable, such as talking to friends.
Whilst smartphones do make our lives easier in many ways, they can quite easily become a burden. If you feel like you’re spending too much of your time experiencing life through a screen, it may be time to put some distance between you and your phone. After all, we weren’t born with a phone in our hand. Here are some quick tips to take control:
Stop Notifications -We have the choice of whether or not we want our apps to send us notifications, and we can change this in your settings. For apps that we don’t need notifications on for, simply can turn them off.
Go Silent- The most common way we get side-tracked by our phones is when it makes a noise and interrupts us. By putting it on silent you can decide when you want to look at it, and you take control.
Leave It – We weren’t born with a phone in our hands so we don’t always need it there. Take the opportunity to leave it at home sometimes and you’ll be surprised how liberating the quietness can be.