Effects of Social Media Addiction: Tips and support to break free

Written By

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Updated:

Fact Checked

Young adults starring at their phones and being anti-social

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Social media has become a ubiquitous part of our lives. For many people, it’s an essential tool for staying connected with friends and family, as well as a source of entertainment, information, and inspiration.

However, for some people, social media use has spiraled out of control and become a source of addiction.

Social media addiction can impact your life

Social media addiction is a real problem affecting millions of people worldwide. Just like any other addiction, it can have a profound impact on your life, affecting your relationships, your mental health, and even your physical well-being.

Impact

Relationships: Social media addiction can take up a lot of time and energy, leaving you with less time to spend with friends and family.

  • Additionally, social media can create feelings of envy and low self-esteem as you compare yourself to others online, which can strain your relationships with those around you.

Mental Health: Social media can be a significant source of stress and anxiety. Constantly comparing yourself to others online can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

  • Additionally, the constant barrage of news and information on social media can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of anxiety and depression.

Physical Well-being: Spending hours a day on your phone or computer can have a negative impact on your physical health. Eyestrain, headaches, neck and back pain, and poor posture are all common symptoms associated with excessive screen time.

  • Additionally, being sedentary for long periods of time can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, and other health problems.

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Social media raises anxiety, loneliness, and depression

Social media can be a double-edged sword. While it can be great for connecting with people, it can also lead to increased loneliness, anxiety, and depression. People may turn to social media to fill the gap in social interactions that they lack in their real lives.

This can create a vicious cycle of spending more time online and feeling increasingly isolated, anxious, and depressed.

Humans have a need for meaningful social connections in order to develop and thrive, and this need can be met in part by the feedback we receive through likes and comments from people who are out of reach.

But too much time on social media can lead to a disconnect with reality, as people compare themselves to unrealistic standards of success and happiness that are only presented on social media.

“Social media is a virtual world that can lead to very real problems, including anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, and addiction.”

— DEEPAK CHOPRA

Causes And Effects Of Social Media Addiction

Experts are warning that addiction to social media can have a range of consequences, such as anxiety, dependence, irritability, lack of self-control, and isolation, that are similar to other addictions.

In addition, low self-esteem, personal dissatisfaction, depression, and even lack of affection are some of the leading causes of this addiction, especially among adolescents aged 16 to 24.

This is due to their impulsive nature, the need for widespread and growing social influence, and the need to reaffirm their group identity.

However, as newer, more appealing social media platforms emerge, people in older age groups are just as likely to become addicted. In fact, studies suggest that social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be even more addictive than tobacco and alcohol due to their easy, free accessibility.

Consequences of social media dependence include:

Loss of Productivity: Social media can be a significant source of distraction, leading to a decrease in productivity.

Sleep Deprivation: Constant scrolling and checking of social media can disrupt the natural sleep cycle, leading to sleep deprivation.

Addiction: Constant use of social media can become an addiction, leading to losing control over one’s benefit.

Social Isolation: Spending too much time on social media can lead to social isolation and a lack of real-life interactions.

Poor Mental Health: Too much time spent scrolling through social media can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Poor Eating Habits: Social media can be a major source of unhealthy eating habits, such as overeating and excessive snacking.

Cyberbullying: Social media can be a breeding ground for cyberbullying, leading to feelings of insecurity and fear.

Boy sitting on couch and being on his phone, looking sad.

Tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of social media addiction

Have you ever felt like you just can’t get away from the constant pull of social media? If so, you’re not alone. With the prevalence of social media in today’s society, it’s easy to become addicted to the endless scrolling and notifications from our devices. To help you avoid the pitfalls of social media addiction, here are ten tips to keep in mind:

Limit your time spent on social media each day. Set a timer and stick to it, and make sure to take breaks and enjoy other activities in between. Take a break from social media!

Delete any social media apps from your phone that you don’t use regularly. Keeping unnecessary apps on your phone can be distracting and lead to compulsive checking. Do not fear of missing out (FOMO).

Take control of who you follow and what you see. Unfollow or mute accounts that you don’t find inspiring, and focus on content that you genuinely enjoy. Use social selectively!

Don’t compare yourself to others. Social media can be a great way to connect with people, but it can also be a source of comparison and envy. Remember that you’re unique and that everyone’s journey is different.

Don’t post for the sake of posting. Make sure your content is meaningful and adds value to the lives of your followers. 

Get outside and enjoy nature. Social media can be a great way to stay connected, but spending time outdoors can be even more rewarding. This is especially important if you are addicted to social media.

Choose your news sources carefully to avoid negative effects. Try to stay away from sources that incite fear or anger and instead focus on trustworthy, neutral sources of information. 

Spend time with people in real life. Social media can be a great way to stay connected with other social media users, but nothing beats spending quality time with people face-to-face.

Remember to laugh and have fun. Social media can be a great way to connect and share funny moments but don’t forget to laugh and have fun in your everyday life as well.

Professional counseling can help individuals make positive behavioral changes. A counselor can provide guidance and support to help individuals understand the reasons for their behavior when using social and work towards making positive changes.

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Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with an experienced teen therapist online in as little as 48 hours.

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✓ Financial aid available

✓ Cancel plan or change therapist anytime

✓ Plans as low as $65/week, billed every four weeks

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Support to break free from social media addiction

Despite these negative consequences, overcoming social media addiction alone can be challenging. A recent study has concluded that psychotherapy can be an effective method for those struggling with social media addiction with a positive impact on mental well-being.

Additionally, the study revealed that the social media therapy model empowers individuals to confront their challenges head-on by shifting their perspectives, identifying the underlying causes of their problems, and guiding them toward developing a robust sense of self-control when dealing with social media addiction.

Through this approach, clients learn to adopt more accurate perceptions, establish healthy outlooks on life and values, and autonomously tackle their personal and academic difficulties while resisting negative temptations even after the treatment concludes.

Group therapy and support offered to a female in a green t-shirt
A trained therapist can work with you to identify the root cause of your addiction, help you develop coping strategies, and support you as you work to overcome your dependency on social media.

One of the key benefits of therapy is that it provides a safe and supportive environment where you can talk openly and honestly about your social media use and how to stop using it.

  • There are many ways to break free and abstain from social media. This can help you gain a deeper understanding of why you use social media and what you’re trying to get out of it.
  • With this insight, you can work with your therapist to develop a plan for reducing your social media use in a way that feels manageable and sustainable.

Another important aspect of therapy for social media addiction is developing coping strategies. Your therapist can help you identify healthy ways to manage stress, anxiety, and boredom so that you’re less likely to turn to social media as a source of comfort.

For example, they might help you find a new hobby or suggest ways to build stronger relationships with friends and family.

This has been demonstrated in studies such as a study by the National Institute of Mental Health, which found that therapy can be an effective way to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Conclusion – Freedom from compulsive engagement with social networks

Therapy provides a source of accountability and support as you work to overcome your addiction. Your therapist will be there to encourage you and celebrate your progress, as well as help you navigate any setbacks or challenges along the way. With their support, you’ll be better equipped to overcome your addiction and reclaim control over your life.

  • In conclusion, social media addiction is a severe issue that can have far-reaching impacts on your life. If you’re struggling with social media addiction, therapy can be a valuable resource to help you overcome this addiction and regain control over your life.

So, don’t wait any longer! Reach out for help today, and start on the path to a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life.

Is Social Media Hurting Your Mental Health? | Bailey Parnell | TEDxRyersonU

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About the author

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Mindful living for a happier, healthier you. I’m a writer and mental health advocate in Warsaw, Poland, with five years working as a therapist. I hold a psychology degree from the University of Warsaw. I specialize in writing about mental health, using my experiences and academic background to educate and inspire others. In my free time, I volunteer at a Disability Learning Center and go for nature walks. My writing aims to break down mental health stigma and help others feel understood. Social

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