Erin Daugherty

Social media is a dominating force in people’s everyday lives, but not many are aware that they’re using social media too much.

A few signs you’re using social media too much include posting excessively and caring about what others post more than your own life.

Posting excessively includes posting normal or everyday tasks, such as going to the grocery store, going to the dentist’s office, or spending extra time to make food look a certain way in order to post it.

Keeping up to date on your friends’ and family members’ lives is good with moderation. However, dedicating time to finding out details about friends of friends, colleagues or vague acquaintances is another sign of too much social media use.

If you feel overwhelmingly jealous when scrolling through your feeds or are making decisions based on what “looks good” on social media, it’s time to take a step back, according to Kevin Deegan at the Huffington Post.

When someone’s eyes are constantly glued to their phone, they miss out on all the real-life conversations with people around them.

Getting jealous of what’s on one’s social media feed can negatively affect quality of life.

For example, seeing an old friend get engaged may make you unhappy with your relationship status, even if you were content with it prior to seeing that post. Research is still in progress to find the specific amount of time on social networking sites (SNS) that is considered an addiction or simply too much.

It is largely dependent on what the individual is using SNS for, the amount of time spent and several other currently unidentified factors.

According to the Huffington Post, a growing body of research is considering whether excessive social media use could be considered pathological and become a mental health disorder.

A technological compulsion like ‘social media addiction’ exhibits the same signs associated with chemical addictions, such as smoking or alcoholism.

Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University believes that the potential for social media addiction lies in not the amount of time spent, but how and why that time is used.

The further factors behind this addiction are still unclear, but a possibility could be the fear of missing out.

“The thing about social networking is that it’s a social behavior,” Griffiths said.

Griffiths published the first paper about SNS addiction in 2011, which came to a significant conclusion.

He found that extroverts appear to use SNS for social enhancement, and introverts use them for social compensation. However, more time spent on these sites led to less involvement in real communities.

In a further paper published in 2014, Griffiths added that social networking sites provide continuous rewards.

For example, users may increase their engagement on these sites to relieve negative moods, which can lead to psychological dependency.

Then, in 2017, Griffiths performed a study to find the relationship between social media use and self-esteem.

He found that an addictive use of social media is more associated with being young, single and female, and related to lower self-esteem.

Research has found that young people who spend more than two hours a day on social media are more likely to report poor mental health.

Instagram was rated the worst social media platform for young people’s mental health in 2017 because many posts make users feel like they are having worse lives than their peers are.

Another study conducted in 2017 from the University of Oxford found the relationship between screen time and mental wellbeing creates a sort of upside-down u-curve.

This is called the Goldilocks Hypothesis. Moderate use of technology is actually beneficial to mental health, but to a point.

“There’s a sweet spot where it looks like it’s a part of kids lives, but it really doesn’t start getting disruptive until you start going to five, six, seven hours a day,” Andrew Przybylski, one of the authors on the study, said.

A possible solution for disruptive social media use or when someone is online too long could be using pop-up warning signs.

These are currently being used on online gambling sites and have been effective, according to Griffiths.

The problem with too much social media use is that people should be putting all their effort into creating what they want from life, not continuously focusing, comparing, and getting upset when peers have things you may want but do not have.

A little moderation can go a long way.

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