Can you be Addicted to Social Media?

Social media, in my opinion, is the face of our planet right now.  It is used for everything. People advertise, communicate, argue, do research, start relationships, get jobs, stalk their favorite celebrities etc.  It is the new form of human interaction and it has swept the developed world.  Twitter has 313 million active users, Facebook has 1.7 billion users, and Instagram has 500 million just to name a few.

With the mass popularity of these platforms, some people are bound to use some them more than others.  But are there people out there who actually have an addiction?

An addiction based upon a dictionary definition is, “The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”

Based upon this definition, one would have to be trapped by this habit, and the act of doing something such as not being able to access social media, or the deletion of an account would traumatize them.  Dr. Pamela B. Rutledge wrote an article for Psychology today taking a stance for the other side of this argument.  She believes people throw around the word, “addiction” too often in regards to social media.  She believes its the same as someone saying they are addicted to chocolate.  Sure, they may enjoy chocolate and indulge in it more than they should every now and again, but if chocolate was taken away from these people they wouldn’t go through withdrawal.  The same holds true for social media.  The article also goes into depth on how using social media is just a new and exciting way to communicate, so if people are spending time on it then so be it.

On the other side there has been studies conducted trying to prove the opposite, that some users are truly addicts.  Dr. Rutledge referenced a study where 200 students at the University of Maryland were asked to go 24 hours without any access to any media, and then write a reflection on their experiences.  Although not empirical, the results were very interesting.  Some students reported having mood changes, feeling sad, depressed, lonely, and confused to name a few.  Others reported that they naturally ended up browsing the web or accessing other forms of media without even thinking about it, and had to stop themselves after instinctively doing the action.  Some reported a “Phantom Ringing” phenomenon, where they felt a buzz in their pocket, or heard a ring that wasn’t there.  Personally I have felt a “phantom” buzz in my pocket on different occasions, and I had no idea it was a phenomenon.  And of course, some of the participants straight up couldn’t make it the 24 hours.

Although some of these students reports use words that may fall under addiction, its hard to tell if it could be a medically diagnosed addiction.   The problem with answering this question, is how new social media is.  Spending hours at a time scrolling through feeds, and feeling the need to check social media every 5 minutes, is definitely unhealthy.   Although on the other hand social media is a form of communication and a lot of good things can come from it.  If you’re spending hours online talking to people, building relationships, building a personal brand etc. Is that really a bad thing?

Because social media is so two sided, there is no true evidence to support my hypothesis that social media can become an addiction.  I personally believe it could definitely be an addiction, as I find myself instinctively checking social media, without even realizing what I’m doing, and my friends do the same.  We have the ability to control ourselves, and going back to the definition, I don’t feel enslaved by the habit. Although, I would bet there are people out there who can’t and truly are dependent on social media.


5 thoughts on “Can you be Addicted to Social Media?

  1. Dhaam Sakuntabhai

    I definitely think that social media is addictive. From my own experience especially within Thai’s culture (my home country), some people actually use their social media as a way to boost their self esteem by mimicking the style of celebrities. They actually buy followers. When I hang out with these people, I find that a vast time of their life is spend on Instagram. Many friends use Instagram to stalk beautiful girls everyday. In case you are wondering, here an article that talks about.

  2. Matthew Hogan

    I definitely think that it is possible to become at least somewhat addicted to social media. I am always checking my phone and social media in particular. And I kind of do it in the same routine. There are some times in the day where I will always check my social media and I often do it in the same order. Especially if I am just standing around waiting for something, I will always go check my phone. I am a little surprised that there is no solid evidence of an addiction, but I guess I would say that at least for me it seems like it is more of a habit than an addiction.

  3. gcm5149

    I found this interesting because I’ve felt at times that I was “addicted” to social media in my phone. It is honestly very distracting and does take away a lot of time. With that being said I do agree that the word “addiction” isn’t appropriate in this instance because people with addiction feel like they can’t function without whatever they are addicted to. I found an article that talked about common behaviors addicts had. It included violent behavior, lying, and other similar behaviors. I feel that using your phone would not cause these types of behaviors because it is something that most people can live without. It isn’t an extreme source of pleasure like drugs and alcohol may be.

    Here’s the link:

  4. lkr5215

    This blog stood out to me as I am probably one of the few of our generation that really isn’t into social Media. I do not really have anything other than Twitter and I only made that for a class in High School. I personally just do not like the negatives that can come along with it like catfishing and all the bullying. Its crazy to realize how much we tend to rely on things such as social media without even realizing it. anyways I found an article you may or may not have read

  5. Melanie Noemi Campos

    This article was very eye opening, social media is something that i personally use on a daily basis. The first thing i do when i wake up is reach for my phone and check my messages from family back home but immediately after that i check my instagram and snapchat. Both of these social media platforms being ones in which we can see the lives of others. Recently i have found that i am forcing myself to weed off of it but it is hard. It truly is an addiction but it may not be a positive one allowing us to connect with friends and family. Social media platforms can be negative addictions. Look at this video speaking about social media addiction

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