We have all heard people say that social media is addicting, but it wasn’t until I took a class that focuses on social media that I realized just how real the addiction is. The past few years I have noticed myself spending excessive amounts of time on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Vine, Group Me, and others. I never really thought of it as an addiction because that seemed extreme but, as I learn more about social media throughout the course of this class I have realized just how serious our generation’s addiction to social media is. I recently lost my phone on vacation and was unable to get a new one for a week and noticed a drastic change in my routine. Although I felt uneasy at being unconnected at first it became nice to take a break and felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. This was a situation where I personally experienced the so called addiction to social media.
Social media is becoming increasingly popular among all generations. Today, eighty percent of companies use social media to recruit potential employees. One in eight couples today meet on social media. According to studies done by Edison Research, while only twenty-one percent of U.S. Citizens used social media in 2008, today eighty-one percent of U.S. Citizens use social media. Approximately seventy-five percent of Facebook users and fifty percent of Instagram users visit these platforms more than once a day.
When we receive positive reinforcement on social media such as getting a “like”, dopamine is released in the brain. According to a study done by the National Institute of Health Internet Addiction Disorder cause neurological, physiological, and social issues. Researchers at University of Albany found similarities in the brains of excessive internet and social media users and the brains of people with substance addictions. Harvard researchers conducted a study investigating why Facebook is so addictive and how it affects the brain. This addiction can be tied to another body of research which looks at how our brains seek acceptance and approval. The Harvard study showed that humans spend forty percent of their time focused on themselves. Face to face communication is proven to be much less self absorbed than social media communication. Studies show thirty-five percent of face to face communication is self absorbed while eighty percent of online communication is self absorbed. This addiction affects the area of the brain that deals with rewards, emotion, attention, and decisions.
Author: Miranda Gaehde- University of Vermont Studio Art major and Public Communications minor
Advisor: Dr. Rob Williams, University of Vermont media/communications professor
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