An Overview of Social Media Addiction

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In this digital day and age, social media plays a huge part in the daily life of many people. At this point, you and practically everyone you know probably has at least one account on a social media platform, whether that be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or something else. However, while most people simply enjoy partaking in social media for a limited time per day or throughout the week, others may have more of a problem. Social media addiction is a very real issue, just like any other addiction. It’s important to understand social media addiction facts and how you can get help if you believe you are addicted.

Recognizing a Social Media Addiction Problem

Most people are easily able to check their social media networks for a limited time during the day and get on with their normal routine. Although the majority are able to enjoy social media and not have any problems, a small percentage of people become addicted to it. In asking the question, “Is social media addictive?” if you are able to say that you excessively use social networking sites or use them compulsively, you may be showing signs of addiction.

According to psychologists, an estimated 5 to 10 percent of Americans suffer from social media addiction. The problem is described as a behavioral addiction that involves an uncontrollable urge to access a social media platform. Additionally, it encompasses having an unreasonable concern about that platform where using it so much impedes on other aspects of everyday life.

It’s important to understand that being addicted to social media is similar to substance abuse disorders. A person will access their social media website of preference to alter their mood and may experience symptoms of withdrawal if they go too long without accessing it. As a result of the addiction, their social life may suffer as interpersonal relationships can be negatively impacted due to their excessive use of the sites.

What an Addiction to Social Media Does to the Brain

In asking the question “Is social media addictive?” you must learn about social media addiction facts. An addiction to these sites is just like any other type of addiction as it generates an increase of dopamine in the brain. Social media platforms can trigger the same effects in the brain as those that lead to abusing recreational drugs and gambling. According to research studies, likes, shares, and retweets from social media websites can affect the reward area of the brain in the same way that drugs can trigger a chemical reaction, thus affecting mental health.

At the same time, as a result of the effects social media has on the brain, the platforms can be addictive on both a physical and psychological level. Harvard University recently conducted a study that revealed that the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by taking addictive drugs are stimulated by the use of social media platforms. When a person uses an addictive substance, be it recreational drugs or a social media site, the neurons in the areas in the brain that produce dopamine are triggered, which results in an increase in the levels of dopamine. This is essentially the “reward” center of the brain, which explains why someone with an addiction would feel good over likes, retweets, etc.

Dangers of an Addiction to Social Media

An addiction to social media can impact a person’s life in a number of negative ways. People can actually lose their jobs or see their grades slipping if they are in school. In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to a parent neglecting their child, which can have dire consequences.

There are certain signs signifying that you may be addicted to social media. The following should cause you to worry:

  • Sharing food to sites: If you insist on taking pictures of your meals to share on a social media website, you may have a problem. Everyone doesn’t need to know what you’re eating.
  • Sharing everything you do, anytime: Sharing every little thing you do, anytime, should send alarm bells that you are addicted to social media.
  • Knowing everything about people you don’t know or don’t know well: You know you are truly addicted if you know everything about people you don’t know well or don’t know at all thanks to social media.
  • Unhappiness when comparing yourself to social media personalities: If you feel jealous of social media personalities or those you follow and are unhappy with yourself, chances are you have an addiction.
  • Being unhappy or concerned when you don’t have your phone in hand: You should worry that you have an addiction to social media if you’re unhappy whenever you don’t have your phone close at hand.


If you suspect a loved one, or you personally, is struggling with a social media addiction, now may be time to seek treatment options. To find out more about treatment options or how to properly cope with a social media addiction, contact The Becoming Counseling.

Wes Cain, LPCA, NCC, IHC



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