Can Social Media & Technology Be An Addiction?

Poppy Hall, Account Executive at Seventy7.
Poppy HallSenior Account Executive

As a creative content agency we understand the pros and cons of social media used in our everyday life both in and out of our work. What keeps us connected to culture and each other can be enriching, but is there a line we cross where it becomes a negative?

As pioneers in our industry it is important that we recognise and educate on the not-so-positive effect that social media can have. Through our work we are constantly pushing for audiences to engage with social media across many platforms. But with this we have the responsibility to ensure the content we are producing does not have a negative effect on those who we are promoting it to.

How could one get addicted to technology and how easy is it to fall into the trap of constant availability and communication?

Pocket sized slot machine

The need for instant, and constant gratification has in recent years been curated into an obsession. Referred to as a ‘pocket sized slot machine’, smartphones and the social media apps within, have been specifically designed to make us reach for them.

Mid-conversation, mid-family meal, middle of the night. Most social media apps work on a “intermittent variable reward” model - refresh the screen and see what the algorithm will bring. It’s this exact uncertainty that fuels the addiction and keeps us coming back for more.

Network effect

These social media platforms provide the structure for a network effect - the more people that get involved, the more benefits it can offer. Benefits and rewards such as, 24/7 engagements in the form of likes, shares and comments; ignite a flow of flow of social affirmation. However the fear of missing out on this dopamine hit can make us compulsively check our social media, and soon becomes a contributing factor to the addiction of technology and social media.

The consequences

A recent survey by Ofcom found that UK residents check their phones, on average every 12 minutes, which equates to 120 times per day. Like any addiction, the dependency on social media can have negative impacts and real life consequences. Experts have noted that young people are more susceptible to spending more time online, thus the potential to become addicted to social media & technology increases.

Clear links have often been made in studies to depressive symptoms (including anxiety and low mood) and mobile phones. This can stem from comparisons on social networking sites, and issues surrounding body image with the increased use of AI beauty filters. Being addicted to technology, such as video games, can lead to a decrease in physical activity and disrupted sleep patterns which may affect overall health and well-being. 

Treatments

To help combat digital addictions, many tech companies have introduced tools for their users to limit the time they spend on social media and smartphone apps. Parental controls give the option of blocking potentially inappropriate content, and monitoring time spent on smartphones. But it’s not just kids that can benefit from time limits. Other ways of helping to reduce screen time is by turning off push notifications and only enabling badge notifications. 

7 Ways To Stay Mindful of Your Technology Consumption:

  1. Turn off unnecessary notifications.
  2. Reflect on your screen time.
  3. Avoid social media when paired with low moods.
  4. Follow accounts that inspire growth, knowledge, self help.
  5. Find activities to enjoy.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others over social media.
  7. Find uplifting and helpful social media accounts for a positive experience.

At the end of the day, social media is now part of daily life no matter where you are, who you are or how interested in it you are.

Don’t be fooled, we’re not here to say that social media is a harmful technology or is guaranteed to have a negative impact in a users life however it is important to understand for yourself and those around you the ways in which it could become an issue. We all have the responsibility to recognise when the use of social media is becoming life consuming, as no one's new Instagram pic or viral TikTok is worth missing out on living life in the real world.

Looking to create social and digital content that is positive for both your brand and audience? Get in touch with our team now.

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