Does social media cause addiction?

Social media addiction, also known as social media addiction disorder or social media use disorder, refers to a condition in which individuals display compulsive and excessive engagement with social media platforms to the extent that it has a detrimental impact on their daily life, relationships, work, and overall well-being. Whether social media causes addiction is a topic of ongoing research and debate, and it depends on various factors:

1. **User Behaviour**: Some people may be more prone to addictive behaviours and may spend excessive amounts of time on social media platforms, leading to addiction-like patterns.

2. **Family** : Family can play a role in social media addiction, but it’s important to remember that addiction is a complex issue influenced by various factors. Family can contribute to addiction in several ways, such as through enabling behaviour, lack of boundaries, or modelling excessive social media use. However, individual factors like personal choices, genetics, and peer influence also play significant roles in addiction.

3. **School**: Schools can indirectly influence social media addiction by their policies and educational approaches, but they are not solely responsible for it. Social media addiction is a complex issue influenced by various factors, including individual choices, peer pressure, family dynamics, and personal predispositions. However, schools can contribute to addressing the issue by educating students about responsible technology use, digital citizenship, and the potential risks of excessive social media use. They can also implement policies that promote a healthy balance between online and offline activities.

4. **Peer group**: Peers can certainly influence social media usage patterns, which may contribute to social media addiction in some cases. Peer pressure, the desire to fit in, and the need for social validation can lead individuals to spend more time on social media than they intended. Additionally, if someone’s friends or peer group frequently engage in excessive social media use, it can normalize such behaviour and make it more likely for others to follow suit.

5. **Platform Design**: Social media platforms are designed to be engaging and often incorporate features like notifications, likes, comments, and infinite scrolling that can encourage prolonged use.

6. **FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)**: The fear of missing out on updates, news, or social interactions can drive individuals to check their social media accounts frequently, which can contribute to addictive use.

7. **Rewards and Dopamine**: The intermittent rewards and feedback (likes, shares, comments) received on social media can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, which can be reinforcing and make users want to continue using the platform.

8. **Escapism**: Some individuals may use social media as a form of escape from real-life problems or to cope with stress and anxiety, leading to excessive use.

9. **Accessibility**: The ease of access to social media through smartphones and other devices makes it readily available, which can contribute to frequent use.

10. **Personality pattern** : An individual’s personality traits can play a significant role in their susceptibility to social media addiction. Certain personality characteristics, such as impulsivity, low self-esteem, loneliness, and a need for social validation, can increase the likelihood of developing an addiction to social media. People with these traits may be more inclined to seek out social media platforms as a way to cope with emotional challenges or to fill a void in their lives.

Author Sradhanjali Dasgupta

Consultant Psychologist, Speaker , Learning Developmental Coach, Teacher and trainer Miss. Sradhanjali Dasgupta has been extensively working in the field of Counselling and education for the past few years in several Clinics, Hospitals, NGOs and educational sectors. She also contributes her writings and blogs in various newspapers, magazines and e- magazines Her training and workshops are both for the corporate as well as for the educational sector and are geared up for learning and development,upgradation and capacity building. She have actively taken part in many debates