By Paul Ndiho, Washington D.C.
A clinic in London is treating more than 100 patients a year, who are receiving counseling. A study last year by the University of Chicago suggested social media addiction can be dangerous.
Earlier this year, a study found that social media is more addicting than alcohol and cigarettes. Millions of people around the world are getting addicted social networking websites such as Facebook, twitter, and Instargram. Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school and region to connect and interact with other people. Users can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.
Despite the obsession, some researchers are suggesting that these social networking sites are very addictive. Gemini Adams is a self-confessed addict. She says its drugs, not alcohol, but Facebook and she uses Yoga is part of digital detox. She won’t use Facebook now for more than half an hour at a time – and once a week she’ll go 24 hours straight without internet altogether.
“I’d signed up to every aspect of Facebook and was utilizing every sort of part of it. Checking in wherever I went and I remember just feeling really kind of revolting and just, you know, gnarled up inside physically because I hadn’t been exercising. And I was just in this position, hunched over a computer and you know my eyesight was worse.”
Despite these concerns, more and more people are flocking to facebook to catch up with old friends make new ones, build up their social networking skills and even shopping.
Social media is now a recognized addiction. According to a study published last year by the University of Chicago found it can even be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. Research shows likes and re-tweets give users a burst of the addictive neurotransmitter dopamine. But a lack of endorsements can provoke jealousy and anxiety. So how much is too much?
“Psychiatrists say the alarm bells start to ring if you’re looking at Facebook, Twitter and all the other Social Media Networks more than 10 times a day. And if that amounts to more than 5 hours, then you might have a problem or see a doctor.”
You’d be surprised to know what people use the social networks for and how much time they spend on it.
Critics say no one is more addicted to social media right now than the media. But some media executives could not disagree more.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr. Richard Graham treats around 100 social media addicts a year at this clinic in London. His patients range from young to old people.
“They start to miss or avoid doing the necessary things in life, even at a fundamental level of self-care. They delay eating or avoid eating or drinking, delay sleep, miss meetings or delay getting into work or college. There are certainly some young people easily passing 9, 10 hours a day using social media.”
In today’s increasingly connected world, switching off may be a lot harder than it sounds. A study commissioned by ESET, almost half of internet users worldwide connect to the web using portable devices as the primary connection device: laptops, ipads, smart phones, and tablets. And that this is indicative of the demand for Wi-Fi hotspots and the need to stay connected at all times.
Technology experts warn that staying connected might be convenient, but users should guard against criminals prowling networks or some people using social media to saying the wrong things. And for addicts — treatment begins with complete abstinence. And for avid users, the sky is the limit.