When it comes to addiction, many people often think of substance addiction. Behavioral addictions, including the use of social media, often create a similar response in the brain and to treatment.
In a recent survey by Statista, 40 percent of people 18 to 22 years admitted that they felt addicted to social media. Many people wonder what makes social media so addicting.
The science behind addiction
Like with any addiction, dopamine plays a key role. This natural chemical gets secreted when taking part in something rewarding, such as eating or finding a potential partner. While dopamine serves its purpose in the human race’s survival, the increased release of dopamine creates a cyclic loop that many people have trouble finding their way out of.
The natural appeal of social media
Humans naturally want to connect with other people. During those social connections, dopamine gets released. In face-to-face situations, the brain delivers a regulated amount of the chemical. Considering people now have access to many social media apps, it may cause a compulsion to overconsume the platforms. For some people, every time they open an app, it releases large amounts of dopamine in one get-go, similar to how it does with drugs or alcohol.
The signs of social media addiction
Anyone who has an addiction will show signs. Things to look for include spending more time than planned on social media, feeling a constant urge to check favorite platforms, avoiding in-person socialization and finding it difficult to reduce the use of social media and overusing it to the point that it affects school or work.
Not everyone develops this addiction. For those who do, it may come with very real and harmful effects.