Characteristics Of Addiction To Different Social Networks

Characteristics of addiction to different social networks

In recent decades, with the boom in technological development, digital spaces have been created in which we can share content such as videos, photos or texts with all the people we want around the world. That is, social networks have appeared.

Among these they stand out for their popularity and qualities. instagram, TikTok, Youtube, Twitch, x either Facebook. However, they are not all advantages, and the birth of social networks has also caused a problem: addiction to social networks.

And why do these digital platforms generate addiction? Keep reading this article to find out the characteristics of social media addiction and the addictive characteristics of different social networks.

Characteristics of social media addiction

Social media addiction is defined as the unbridled and persistent use of digital platforms, such as TikTok, instagram, Youtube, Twitch, x (Twitter) either Facebook. In this case, it is an addiction without substance, since the element that generates the addiction is the use of these applications itself.

The abusive use of social networks does not imply a greater expenditure of money or effort, but it does imply an excessive amount of time on social networks, greater than what is really desired. This way, interferes with daily activities and leads to a loss of time for important aspects of life: failure to complete tasks in the work or academic area, decreased hours of sleep, deterioration in social relationships…

All of this can lead to stress, anxiety, irritability, attention problems, low self-esteem, feelings of loneliness, boredom or apathy. Furthermore, like all addictions, it predisposes one to suffer other types of addictions as an attempt to reduce the discomfort caused by the disease itself.

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The appearance of all these symptoms may indicate that the person suffers from an addiction to social networks. If you think this is your case, I recommend you go to psychological therapy, because this article is not enough for you to diagnose yourself, but it is enough to start treating the problem before it becomes bigger and accumulates more negative consequences.

Addictive Features of Social Media

We already know what the characteristics of addictions are, but we need to understand why social networks are problematic, what makes them so addictive. Below, I describe the main characteristics that cause addiction to different social networks.

1. Eye-catching content tailored to personal tastes

The main addictive factors of social networks are their entertainment and enjoyment capabilities in a short time. All social networks include content such as short texts, memes that can be understood at a glance or short videos (the well-known shorts either reels). What these publication formats have in common is novelty, brevity and being stimulating.

It is usually the short videos that generate the most addiction, as happens in TikTok and instagramand all the shorts that have been added to the rest of the social networks. This is because, In addition to meeting the previous characteristics, they have visual and sound elements that make them striking in themselves, and they further satisfy us.

All of these social networks have a series of algorithms that ensure that the best possible content appears to you, either because they are very popular publications or because it is related to topics that you have previously shown that you like.

These characteristics cause what is known in psychology as intermittent reinforcement: stimulation and pleasant results are achieved, but only a few times out of all the attempts made, and in a random manner. This leads to doing scroll indefinitely, waiting for the moment when some publication satisfies us enough, which means investing a lot of time.

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2. Ease of use and accessibility

Social networks also have the characteristic of being easy to use. On the one hand, the applications have notifications, which warn us and remind us that social networks are just a tap away. On the other hand, the own apps They are usually intuitive, and do not require physical or mental effort to obtain gratification from them.

For example, for people who are shy or have poor social skills, social networks give them the possibility of creating profiles in which they do not identify the person behind them. This It gives him a kind of alter ego, which allows him to communicate anonymously, thus freeing himself from social pressures and fears.

And what’s more, they are free. The fact that they are free implies that they are especially accessible, not like in other addictions in which you have to spend money to buy a substance (and those that generate addiction tend to be very expensive) nor does the behavior itself imply spending money (as would occur in gambling addiction or compulsive shopping.

And not only are they accessible because they are free, but they are also available to anyone. Nowadays, practically all young people and adults have at least one electronic device, specifically the mobile phone. What’s more, it is rare that we do not carry our cell phone with us. This means that everyone has access to social networks, from anywhere and at any time, something very specific to this addiction.

3. Evasion of reality

As in all addictions, people who abuse social networks initially begin to use them for fun, to distract themselves from everyday worries. However, It takes on a more negative tone when, instead of being for entertainment, it is used to try to relieve discomfort (as also ends up happening with all addictions).

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Because addiction deteriorates the person’s usual functioning due to the high amount of time it absorbs, important parts of their life are affected (social, individual, academic, work…), which generates psychological discomfort when going. realizing the consequences.

At this point, a paradoxical effect occurs: an attempt is made to reduce the discomfort caused by the addiction itself, by carrying out the addictive behavior. Now the day-to-day concerns are even greater and they need to use social networks even more to be able to feel good (among other things, because being an intermittent reinforcement, not all publications are going to generate the pleasant emotions sought).

4. Lack of danger perception

Finally, another important factor for addiction is the level of social acceptance of social networks. It is so socially accepted to use social networks frequently, especially among the young population, that spending so much time on them is not usually recognized as a problem. It is even usually the opposite, that People who do not use social networks are criticized more than those who use them abusively.

In this sense, there is a lack of information and awareness campaigns about the misuse of social networks and the addictions they can cause. This is vitally important, since the first step to start treating this problem is to be able to recognize that you have an addiction.

Do you want to start a psychotherapy process?

If you notice that you or your children have begun to develop problematic use of social networks, it is important to go to psychotherapy.

I invite you to contact me; I offer online and in-person therapy sessions.