Living & wellness

18 Feb 2021 admin


Social media has become such a huge part of our lives that we can almost not imagine a life without it. Because of how popular social media use is, we may not actively monitor our usage and the effects excessive use of social media may have on our lives. As of February 2021, about half of the world’s population uses social media. That is roughly 3.96 billion users across the globe irrespective of their age and internet access. It is also estimated that on a global scale, a user spends an average of about 2 hours 30 minutes on social media a day. While many people can curb their social media usage within a non-problematic time range, a growing percentage of people are beginning to record an excessive, almost compulsive use of social media in ways that are detrimental to their health. These people are said to have a social media use disorder. A recent survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health showed that of the 86% of students in Ontario who use social media, about 16% spend up to five hours or more online. This statistic is relatively high compared to the estimated average of 2 hours 30 minutes. Frequent social media use does not necessarily mean you have an addiction. However, physiological and psychological disturbances with restricted or stopped use have been linked to some people who spend longer periods on social media. These reactions are similar to withdrawal symptoms experienced by some people with substance use disorders. Even though various negative effects have been linked to excessive social media use, it is not officially recognized as a psychological disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Nevertheless, social media addiction is still often categorized under behavioral addictions.

harmful effect of social media addiction

How Do You Know You Have A Social Media Addiction?

People who use social media in a problematic manner usually have some or all of the symptoms listed below:

  • You are always logged in. If you catch yourself on social media most of the day -especially if it is not directly related to your work, you may have developed a social media use disorder.
  • You obsess over engagements. Do you have a compulsive desire to check your notifications a hundred times in a day, looking for more likes and follows? There might be a problem.
  • You abandon your work for social media. If you can’t stay off social media even though you have a ton of work to do, knowing the implications of not doing the work, you may be struggling with a social media addiction.
  • You are upset when offline. Most social media users can handle a couple of hours or days offline. If you get upset, agitated, or irritable any time you have to be offline or away from your phone, it might be the right time to seek help.

Risk Factors of Social Media Addiction

Different biological, social, psychological, and environmental factors can predispose you to social media addiction. Some common factors are:


Teenagers and young adults are more likely to get absorbed in the world of social media leading to addiction.

Peer Pressure

Social media is designed to keep users online through the “Fear Of Missing Out” (FOMO). With peers active on social media, staying away may make a person feel out of touch with the world.

Mental Health Issues

Some people have mental health issues such as social anxiety that inhibits them from forming relationships and connections with the people around them. Social media may serve as a way for these people to communicate and express themselves. Loneliness: Many people live alone or lack social supports and may resort to social media to fill in that void for companionship and friendship. Consistent use of social media may result in an addiction difficult to break.

Effects Of Social Media Addiction On Quality Of Life

Reduced Productivity

People with problematic use of social media often have low productivity during the day or work hours. Because it is difficult for them to log off, they spend valuable time online that they could’ve spent doing tangible work. This is a major problem, especially for people whose job is not directly linked to social media use.

Poor Decision Making

Studies have shown that excessive social media use may be linked to impulsive behaviors and poor decision-making generally. This result is similar to what is found in people with substance use disorders.

Low Self Esteem

Most social media users only post the exciting parts of their lives, often edited to suit a certain aesthetic. Continuously consuming such content can make people think they are not good enough or their lives are not fulfilling. This has been linked to low self-esteem in people with problematic social media use.

Affected Relationships

Spending excessively long hours on social media leaves little time for users to spend time with their friends and family in the real world. This may ruin relationships as friends may feel neglected.

Mental Health Issues

Excessive social media use has been associated with the onset of some mental health disorders like anxiety disorders and depression. A reason may be due to users comparing their lives to what they see on social media. Also, cyberbullying is rampant on social media, which may affect users’ mental health. Social media addicts may also develop sleeping disorders, further affecting their productivity during the day

Treatment of Social Media Addiction

To treat social media addiction, you have to decrease the hours you spend on social media gradually. Some tips are to:

  • Turn off your phone for a few hours, especially during work hours.
  • Pick up a new hobby that doesn’t require technology or the internet.
  • Use an app timer
  • Set up meetings with friends and family as often as you can
  • Take regular social media breaks by uninstalling the apps


In chronic cases, you may need to receive counseling and therapy from an addiction expert. They would help you build back your self-esteem, relationship with loved ones, and a healthy outlook on social media use.
Has social media or other forms of addiction negatively affected your life? You can still get help. To gain back control of your life, book a virtual consultation with an addiction physician by visiting