SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION: ANOTHER PANDEMIC

SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION: ANOTHER PANDEMIC

Due to the social distancing norms trending right now along with the COVID-19 virus, people are compelled to stay home.

The more they are staying home, the more folks are surfing the internet evening the children’s too who are getting addicted due to online classes as it attracts them and screen time is increasing. Trends report a huge spike in the time spent on social media by people during these turbulent times.
 

Experts say that these situations indicate that people are more prone to technology/social media addiction. 
 

The entire world is under the largest extending lockdown ever seen and the thin line between social distancing and isolation has been crossed by most people. Therefore, social networking is the means through which people are closing in and finding their diversion in technology. 
 

Public forums like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok are now flourishing recreation centres for people locked down at home. This is also reflected through the growth in the number of users of these apps.
 

The sudden change in lifestyle has caused a glut in the usage of internet by people because of which a problem as huge as the coronavirus is being seeded, i. e., social media addiction. This addiction also creating behavioural change and making most people impatient and aggressive.
 

One can surf for tips to prevent themselves from getting addicted to social media but in vain because most of these suggestions ask them to go outside and spend time with people around or tune in with nature.

During the lockdown, this option is closed too. In fact, the whole world is now intoxicated by memes and throwback pictures everywhere you go. Survey suggests that internet browsing post the lockdown has scaled up by 72% and the traffic on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter has increased by 75%. 
 

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHNS) conducted a study which says that gaming addiction has increased by approximately thirty percent since the lockdown has been implemented. In the first week itself, during the lockdown, an 87%increase in internet usage was observed by the study. 
 

Social media addiction was a social problem even before the lockdown. However, the graphs drawn in the current situation are showing higher values than ever in which every single social media platform is experiencing geometrically increasing traffic with every passing day and in turn internet data usage are at all-time high. 
 

This is not only a countrywide phenomenon or a national issue. It’s  a global issue. People are growing more and more dependent on their smart phones and gadgets to survive. The growing usage of internet has risen by 60% in the past 7 years. 
 

The figures that we are seeing are justified too, because the lockdown is a sophisticated lifestyle for many across the globe. It metes out a lot of leisure time. The generation believes that social media is not a luxury but a necessity. It is not a desire but a need for many because it keeps one updated, connected and relevant to the times. 
 

It has its set of advantages which are undeniable. One can connect with someone who is miles away. People can feel connected to the news and update themselves about what is happening across the globe for a nominal internet charge. 
 

Also, it encourages businesses, it is a platform for advertising every venture, be it that of art or food or photography, it provides a boost through the number of likes one receives. People feel content once they are appreciated by others and it is made possible through social media. They want more of the same feeling of satisfaction and eventually they get addicted to it. 
 

Social media presence can give a lot of things to the user - entertainment, easy connectivity, endorsement, modernisation, recreation – all in a device, in a click. 
 

These are the pros of social media but it has its own cons too, because there is scarcely any difference between the use and overuse of social media, which is creating health issues in long run, eye nerves & brain cells are badly affected.
 

People used to sit in same posture for a long period due to indulgences in the online content. Studies say that the overuse of social media can cause anxiety, stress, sleep depravity, hyperactivity disorder, emotional frustration, jealousy, body/image insecurity, and many other mental health problems.
 

The implication of this study is that 99% of the problem millennials face can be caused by social media. 
 

Understanding the Addiction

Just like any other disease, this disease too has some symptoms which one needs to observe, but it is difficult to understand because most of these symptoms are with everybody. On an average, a millennial checks his phone approximately 150 times according to survey. 
 

In other words, the problem is too common to be differentiated. Therefore, one cannot understand it through studies and investigation. The only way to figure out one’s own addiction to social media is introspection. 
 

There are certain questions that the individual can ask himself or herself to get to the root of the problem, like,

  • Do you believe that your self-respect depends on likes and comments?
  • Do you feel restless when you don’t get access to social media?
  • Do you use social media to forget your personal problems?
  • Do you need to spend more time to get a "buzz" from social media?
  • Is social media deeply integrated with your life?
  • Have you tried leaving it but have failed because it affects your job/studies/relationships?
  • (Source: ScienceDaily.com)
     

If the answer to these questions are given honestly by the user in agreement, they should curtail their internet usage because they show the symptoms of a social media addict. These patterns are found not only in youngsters but also in the elders. The problem is not entirely that of the user. 
 

The apps are designed with an algorithm that is very engaging. The interface and algorithm is designed as per user psychology. It has an infinite news feed, and keeps the user updated through constant notifications. These are also known as ‘slot machine effect’. 
 

At the time of this crisis, one may feel that social media is a necessity to stay connected and relevant. However, the usage can be restricted to a certain time limit. Considering this time also as one when we can reconnect with friends and families, polish our skills, pursue our hobbies, and monitor our usage of social media.
 

An easy solution to the problem is to keep the phone at a distance so one does not check notifications too often. Disabling pop-up notifications can also give a good start to reduce social media addiction. 
 

Therefore, in the words of experts, what we need is a Digital Detox, because the government can help with the physical health of a person while the mental health still remains the individual’s concern.
 

Edited by Shraddha Jha

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