By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
The advent of the internet combined with cell phone technology and social media has led to unprecedented advances, or should I say alterations, in the way people communicate, socialize and function throughout each and every day.
In fact, these tools have revolutionized the way we communicate. As a result, people constantly feel the need to check their phones to receive notifications and stay up to date with the latest news, text message or social media feed. Simply put, most people in society are addicted to cell phones and social media.
10-fold increase use of social media
Pew Research Center reported that 65% of adults use social media websites which is a 10-fold increase throughout the last 10 years. An estimated 90% of adults ages 18-29 use social media, while 77% of adults ages 30-49, 51% of adults ages 50-64, and 35% of adults ages 65+ use social media in a similar fashion.
While these numbers are staggering, there are also secondary consequences to addictive social media use. The negative consequences not only affect teenagers and young kids but also adults. A vast amount of research suggests that constant social media use will likely result in social isolation, various forms of depression, stress, anxiety, etc.
For adults, social media is very likely to influence work productivity, political views, personal opinions, and civic engagements. Unfortunately, its widespread use has resulted in a tribal-like mentality for many people who choose to avoid conflicting points of view and also stick to the point of view that supports their own thoughts and beliefs.
How do we change?
The first step in changing or reducing cell phone-based addicting behaviors is to recognize that problems exist. A great tool to self-monitor your phone and social media use can be found on your phone.
Almost every phone now has an app (or you can download one) to keep track of your weekly cell phone use. The app further breaks down cell phone use into different categories which are broken down into time spent on social media, texting, calling, etc.
Although some people may not want to know how much time they waste on their phones, it can be a great way to identify or simply recognize the extent of the addiction.
Most therapists and psychiatrists would agree that in order to treat addiction, one must come to terms with the fact that addiction exists. Then once a person acknowledges the addiction, then one can begin to treat the addictive behavior.
Whether you delete an app or make a conscious effort to put down your phone at night, small behavioral changes can lead to overcoming addiction.
Rideout, Victoria, and Susannah Fox. “Digital health practices, social media use, and mental well-being among teens and young adults in the US.” [PDF] (2018).
Primack, Brian A., et al. “Social media use and perceived social isolation among young adults in the US.” American journal of preventive medicine 53.1 (2017): 1-8.
Vannucci, Anna, Kaitlin M. Flannery, and Christine McCauley Ohannessian. “Social media use and anxiety in emerging adults.” Journal of Affective Disorders 207 (2017): 163-166.
Perrin, Andrew. “Social media usage.” Pew research center(2015): 52-68.
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