Scrolling and clicking have become the most important cognitive functions of fingers after social media evolution in the digital space. The majority of people worldwide who are staying online often spend several hours of a day on social media alone. Social media, which is meant to connect families and friends, are now detaching people from families due to addictive behavior. Social media addiction is nothing but a behavioral addiction diagnosed as overuse of social networking sites, an uncontrollable drive to log on to it, and spending more no—daily hours in social media, affecting other aspects of life.
According to a recent study on social media addiction, it has been proven that self-disclosure on social media lights up the same part of the brain when taking an addictive substance. When someone experiences something rewarding or uses an addictive substance, neurons in the principal dopamine-producing areas in the brain are activated, causing dopamine levels to rise. Therefore, the brain receives a “reward” and associates the drug or activity with positive reinforcement.
Social media provides an endless amount of immediate rewards in the form of attention from others for relatively minimal effort. Therefore, the brain rewires itself through this positive reinforcement, making people desire likes, retweets, and emoticon reactions. In a normal scenario that is without social media, people talk about themselves on an average of 30-40% of their time, but social media is all about showing off, so it takes about 80% of your time to think of your own accomplishments that too when rewarded with other’s attention, brain again and again reinforces to do it. So it travels from a stage of relaxation to addiction.
As of 2018, 3.1 billion people are social media users worldwide (Source: mediakix.com), which is roughly one-third of the population. Out of the 210 million people are suffering from internet and social media addictions worldwide. In the past few years, Internet addiction has been announced as a major National health problem in various countries. The major problem faced by Generation Z is maintaining good physical and mental health.
Mental health has become a prime focus by governments of various countries to maintain good health care. Studies have proven that over-usage of social media has links with low self-esteem, negative mental thoughts, depression due to comparison with others, feeling unhappy and isolated. Social media creates a fake image of showing everyone as very happy and living their dream life, but that's not true; they may be completely different in real life. This fakeness often creates a silent depression as you are the one suffering in the world. Overall, it affects the individuals' decision-making skills, and their effects are no less than a drug addiction.
Every one of us uses social media, how to decide how much is considered normal, where to draw the line between normal usage and addictive behavior. Social media addiction is also like other behavioral addictions. It has some specific signs and symptoms that need to be assessed and diagnosed. A psychometric scale-like Social Media Addiction Questionnaire(SMAQ) comes in handy for measuring the intensity of the addiction level.
The social media addiction questionnaire is an 8-item questionnaire derived from the Facebook Intrusion Questionnaire(FIQ). The FIQ was developed to measure Facebook addiction based on behavioral addiction symptoms, particularly withdrawal, relapse and reinstatement, and euphoria.
SMAQ also consists of 8 important questions that are directly related to the addictive behavior towards social media. It measures the extent of an individual's problems due to social media use in daily routine, social life, productivity, and sleeping patterns. These criteria are measured against a 7 point scale with standard responses from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” The values for each question are taken and summed up, which gives the overall score.
The score for the social media addiction questionnaire is the total value added for all 8 questions. Studies have proven a notable correlation between social media addiction, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. So the higher the SMAQ score, the higher the intrusion of social media affecting your daily life.
The social media addiction questionnaire is, so far, the best scale to measure social media addiction. It shows a high internal consistency, which strongly shows the reliability of the scale.
A 2018 study found that teens who spend 5 hours per day using their phones were almost twice as likely to exhibit depressive symptoms than counterparts who dedicated only 1 hour on their phones. Social media had already filled each and every space of the internet, making the next generation addictive and prone to serious mental health issues like depression and other mental disorders. The digital era has given us some extraordinary development, but at the cost of damaging humanity's basic structure: “Health.” So being aware of what we are going through seriously helps maintain a good life and inner harmony.