Social media is here to stay. Back in 1997, when the first social networking sites were built, people had no idea just how easy staying connected 24/7 would be in the future. Today, we have jumped from having only one popular social media site, Facebook in 2004, to an online world filled with options like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIN and many more!

Just consider it, it’s estimated that today there are close to 2.5 billion social media users across the globe who spend about 1.7 hours of their day online. And these numbers continue to grow! The staggering scientific results hint that our online communities have become more problematic than ever.

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Am I Addicted to Social Media Websites?

It is very possible that you could be addicted to social media. The websites are one of the leading causes for what’s known as “phone addiction,” a problem that has only continued to increase over the past 5 years according to Google Trends. Social media addiction is also a term recognized by Google that is especially popular among younger people. According to a growing body of research, using social media websites may in fact be addicting.

One study on U.S. young people included subjects who were forced to give up their smartphones. Researchers found that what happened when they were not allowed to use their phones included “withdrawal” symptoms similar to that experienced by a person addicted to drugs or alcohol. They included physiological symptoms like increased heart rate and blood pressure along with other emotional symptoms like a sense of loss, or lessening of their extended self: their smartphones.

As a pastime using social media has also been linked to serious mental health risks. For example, a recent study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science revealed that social media addiction was associated with an increase in depression and suicide in teenagers.

Teens are notorious for having some type of internet connection going at all times. With their smartphones almost always on and in their hands, you can assume that social media sites are where they spend most of their time. But are they addicted? Well, researchers say “yes,” teens do suffer from an addiction to their smartphone’s ability to keep them constantly connected via social media.

But it’s not just teens. In a recent report from Pew Research Center, a survey revealed that about 45% of millennials claimed that the social media accounts they spent time on had a “major impact” on their relationships.

Social media addiction can happen to anyone so never assume that you or someone you love is not at risk. An overall review of the scientific data on social media addiction shows that overuse of these types of websites can cause a loss of face-to-face interactions and real life social community connections. Beyond that, social media addiction was linked to other negative impacts including relationship problems and lower academic achievement.

Can a Social Media Addiction Really Hurt My Relationships?

If you are spending more time on social media websites than with your partner, that is going to cause a problem – duh! But what about the other ways (the less obvious ways) that social media addiction can sabotage your relationships?

Here are just 3 ways social media addiction could be hurting your relationships:

1. It Causes Sadness

Time spent on social media websites scrolling through images, profiles and status updates feels good when you are looking down at your phone. But studies have shown that the not-so-real interactions that occur with the other 500 million Facebook users is actually linked to more feelings of sadness. This can have a drastic impact on the health of your real-life relationships not only at home, but in the workplace and even with your special someone. One study showed that Facebook use was linked to less moment-to-moment happiness and lower overall life satisfaction.

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“On the surface,” the authors write, “Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling such needs by allowing people to instantly connect. Rather than enhancing well-being, as frequent interactions with supportive 'offline' social networks powerfully do, the current findings demonstrate that interacting with Facebook may predict the opposite result for young adults—it may undermine it.”

2. It Could Be Dangerous

Within your family relationships, keep a close eye on your kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a warning about the potential negative effects of social media including cyber-bullying and depression. This can be damaging to the mental and emotional health of your child, which may also hurt their relationships inside the home.

3. Romantic Issues

For couples, Facebook use is known to cause potential problems. In one study, the usage of this particular social media site was shown to increase sharing of personal information that caused jealous cyberstalking (interpersonal surveillance). In extreme cases, divorce and other legal actions have been reported.

While a social media addiction can damage your relationships, there are ways to keep it healthy! Remember to start, limit your time spent on social media websites in order to prevent an addiction.

And, also try these tips when using social media:

  • Never compare your profile to someone else’s – not everything on the web is true
  • Never stalk anyone on a social media site
  • Don’t troll your friends, family or partner’s profile – or their friends!
  • Don’t bully or spread lies
  • Use social media to support others
  • Build friendships and a sense of community with your profiles
  • Send your sweetie love notes or pictures to stay close
  • Have fun!

Visit our couples counseling page at https://www.wakecounseling.com/couples-counseling/

Call us at 919-647-4600

References:

  1. Daria J. Kuss, Mark D. Griffiths. Social Networking Sites and Addiction: Ten Lessons Learned. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Mar; 14(3): 311.
  2. Russell B. Clayton, Glenn Leshner. The Extended iSelf: The Impact of iPhone Separation on Cognition, Emotion, and Physiology. 8 January 2015.
  3. Jean M. Twenge, Thomas E. Joiner. Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicide-Related Outcomes, and Suicide Rates Among U.S. Adolescents After 2010 and Links to Increased New Media Screen Time. November 14, 2017.
  4. AMANDA LENHART, MAEVE DUGGAN. Couples, the Internet, and Social Media. Pew Research Center Internet & Technology. FEBRUARY 11, 2014.
  5. Daria J. Kuss, Mark D. Griffiths. Online Social Networking and Addiction—A Review of the Psychological Literature. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(9), 3528-3552.
  6. Ethan Kross, Philippe Verduyn. Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. August 14, 2013.
  7. The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical Report. April 2011, VOLUME 127 / ISSUE 4
  8. Daria J. Kuss, Mark D. Griffiths. Online Social Networking and Addiction—A Review of the Psychological Literature. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(9), 3528-3552.

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