An insight into social media addiction and what you can do to stop it.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? I imagine for most people; you checked your social media. The immense growth of social media over the last decade has been nothing short of incredible, with an estimated 3.78 billion social media users worldwide in 2021 – almost half of the entire population! This number is only expected to grow in the coming years, with the average annual growth rate from 2022 to 2025 forecast at 3.9 percent.
It’s an incredibly impressive feat that almost half of the world’s population can connect with each other through the various different platforms no matter where they are from, and it shows the positive impact that social media can have in terms of connecting people and encouraging them to keep in touch. However, the rapid growth of these numerous social media platforms has also brought a plethora of mental health issues to the forefront, especially in younger people.
As it has evolved, social media has transformed into a platform for constant self-advertisement with a need for validation as people constantly portray these unrealistic versions of themselves in the hope of some form of social validity through the medium of ‘likes’ (or whatever metric a site uses). This constant need to validation through the form of social media metrics is having a massively detrimental effect on people’s mental health.
According to research from Health Assured, the average time spent on social media is currently 136 minutes a day and is heavily concentrated towards younger people. 91% of 16-24-year-olds use social media, however, a reported four out of five major social platforms make their anxieties worse. Numerous other studies have found a link between heavy social media use and things such as depression, anxiety, loneliness and even things such as self-harm and suicidal thoughts. These platforms we have become so reliant on are constantly promoting unnecessary comparisons to inauthentic and heavily edited lifestyles, resulting in a huge increase in feelings of inadequacy and loneliness.
So, what do we do about this?
I’m not going to sit here on my high horse and tell you to quit social media or just ‘not care’ about the numbers and how your posts compare to other peoples. That’s not going to happen, and social media is only going to grow more prominent in people’s everyday life, so it’s important to manage how you use it.
Personally, I was suffering with extremely bad social media addiction. I used to be unable to open Instagram without scrolling to the bottom of my feed and seeing ‘You’re all caught up’, and as someone who runs a number of pages, I’m sure you can imagine the time wasted away doing this.
So, to combat this I decided to limit my social media intake to certain times on certain days and I must say, my life is so much better for it. I found it helped to go completely cold turkey at first, I took about 5 days away from scrolling through Instagram and the incessant need to reach the bottom of my feed started to fade. I had to keep reminding myself as I returned to social media that I didn’t have to reach the end of the feed, and this constant affirmation eventually stuck – I can’t tell you the last time I felt an urge to continue to scroll!
Now of course, this method worked for me, but it may not work for everyone. Another method could be turning off your notifications to as a way to limit the number of ways to get back into the apps. You could even try deleting all (or even just try 1) social media apps for a week and see how you cope and if you can break the vision cycle of consistent consumption.
Unfortunately, I think social media addiction is a growing issue and only going to get worse as the digital revolution continues, but I really hope this article helps anyone suffering with it any some way, shape or form.
By Callum Ward