Social networks have become part of our lives and have almost replaced live communication. Numerous studies show that this phenomenon covers more than 50% of all Internet users in many countries. Many people simply can't imagine life without their gadget. Dependence on social networks or the ability to expand the circle of friends brings suspicious joy to people's lives. People think that through a social network they become closer to each other, but this is not true. Since they do not notice that they unknowingly stop communicating with people who are with them in real life. If you look from the outside at people who walk with friends in a park, cafe, shopping center, etc., you will notice that many of them do not communicate with each other, they hold their gadgets in their hands and actively lead a virtual life. In our time, such a problem as dependence on social networks is very relevant.
Social networks reflect all the problems of the modern world. There are positive and negative sides to ad networks. The positive ones include communicating with friends, family and friends who are far away, searching for a new job, exchanging information, communicating by interests, and meeting people from all over the world... But on the other hand, there are negative points that are that modern people spend more and more time in social networks at the expense of real life. There is a psychological dependence on social networks, that is, a kind of disease.
People spend more and more time on social networks. According to psychologists, a social network to brainwash people. At first, people just don't notice it, they enjoy communicating in the virtual world, but then they stop noticing how sharply their mood deteriorates when they are unable to log in to a social network. Many people not only at home, but also in the workplace and even when communicating with friends are busy viewing messages. This negatively affects labor productivity, and drives a person into stress and can even lead to a nervous breakdown.
Dependence on social networks develops gradually. First, a person shows interest in different types of social networks, registers, and expands the information content of their account. Then he gets more and more bogged down in endless conversations, viewing messages, participating in discussions on forums, in various applications and games that friends and new acquaintances offer him. This develops into a pathological addiction. Without visiting a social network, according to many people, the day is boring and unproductive.
Addiction in the medical sense is defined as an obsessive need to use a familiar substance.
With social networks, the situation looks exactly the same. According to experts, the basis of dependence on social networks is low self-esteem, self-doubt, even some self-denial. After all, no one sees you, you can put the most successful photo, in the opinion of a person. Or hide behind a so-called avatar. You can freely Express your opinion, no one will stop you, such as not too friendly classmates or critical parents. And due to likes, people's "virtual" self-esteem increases.
Someone who is deprived of the love of relatives, who suffers from loneliness, who has developed an "inferiority complex", who is dissatisfied with life and their appearance, and becomes dependent on "virtual" life. Most often these are people, dreamers who like to embellish reality, those who do not have enough thrills in real life. Psychologists already classify such people as mentally unstable. They have a chronic sleep disorder, bright and moist eyes, and a sharp deterioration in mood when unable to log in to a social network.
Their constant presence in the networks creates an increased level of dopamine in their brain - almost analogous to adrenaline. Communication in chat rooms, all the attributes characteristic of a social network cause excitement, a surge of energy and an endorphin release. A person wants to experience this state over and over again, and experience it more often. Now the Internet and social networks are a means for him to get pleasure and emotional relief. The "virtual" consumer is partially losing touch with the real world. Lack of live communication negatively affects the overall health, impairs the immune system, and disrupts the hormonal balance within the body. Blood vessels also suffer, and the thinking process is disrupted. All this puts a person at risk of developing serious diseases.
Despite the argument from a few researchers that tweeting may be harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol, social media addiction isn’t included in the latest diagnostic manual for mental health disorders.That said, social media is changing faster than scientists can keep up with, so various groups are trying to study compulsive behaviors related to its use – for example, scientists from the Netherlands have invented their own scale to identify possible addiction.And if social media addiction does exist, it would be a type of internet addiction – and that is a classified disorder. In 2011, Daria Kuss and Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University in the UK have analyzed 43 previous studies on the matter, and conclude that social media addiction is a mental health problem that “may” require professional treatment. They found that excessive usage was linked to relationship problems, worse academic achievement and less participation in offline communities, and found that those who could be more vulnerable to a social media addiction include those dependent on alcohol, the highly extroverted, and those who use social media to compensate for fewer ties in real life. 
Social media dependency has received more and more consideration in the last five years. The boom of social networking applications has caused many researchers to explore not only why people post the content they choose to share, but also the addictive tendencies in some users.
5 Signs that Should Make you Worry About Your Social Media use:
1. Cooking to share on Instagram: When you make a beautiful salad for lunch, what is more important? Eating the salad or sharing your photo on social media? With the popularity of Instagram, the visual aspect of food has become much more important than the practical one. This has added oil to the flames of food waste. We’re losing the abilities to properly plan meals and shop responsibly, which in turn results in mass food waste. Therefore, if you are spending your time making everything just to share on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, it’s time for you to take a step back and evaluate yourself.
2. Sharing everything you do at any time: Do you have friends that you never see, but you know what they’re doing every minute of the day? If so, it is highly probable that you are also someone’s “social media friend”. According to the author of “The Distraction Addiction”, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, “We are interested in how much we have fun or what we do on social media rather than what we do [in the physical world]”. Of course, we want to share incredible experiences like vacations or concerts with our friends, but with the distraction of a phone and trying to get the perfect snap, are we missing more than we gain?
3. Knowing everything about people you don’t know very well: According to Pang, the most important indicator of social media addiction is knowing everything about people we know very little in real life, due to social media. Details such as where we sit, what we do, friends, loved ones, what we ate for breakfast are widely available to us. This opens up the door to an intimacy that often is not achieved with real friends. How much we know about someone, without meeting them is actually a sign of how much time we spend on social media. According to one study by Pew Research as much as 88% of teens who use social media personally, “agree that people share too much information about themselves on social media”. If there is such a strong consensus about that, why do we do it?
4. Being unhappy, due to comparing yourself with social networks personas: One of the signs that social media dependence has reached dangerous dimensions in your life is the feeling of jealousy. With the constant access to media, we are now able to follow people on their trips to exotic places, festivals, events. The ability to pick and choose what we share has opened the floodgates to creating online personas. Subconsciously we know that we only see a small fraction of reality online, however, we often choose to ignore that fact. Therefore, if your friends’ celebrations, gifts, homes, cars, wives and even body measurements have begun to cause jealousy, then your addiction has reached a serious high. 
5. Being unhappy when you can not reach your phone: Do you feel uncomfortable when you can’t control Facebook while stopped at traffic lights, or you can’t scroll through Twitter before you go to bed? One study shows that Americans check their phones every twelve minutes, while one in ten checks them every four. When unable to do so they begin to feel anxiety. This just shows how dependent we are, and how social media and technology addiction is a real issue. 
Due to the effect that it has on the brain, social media is addictive both physically and psychologically. According to a new study by Harvard University, self-disclosure on social networking sites lights up the same part of the brain that also ignites when taking an addictive substance. The reward area in the brain and its chemical messenger pathways affect decisions and sensations. When someone experiences something rewarding, or uses an addictive substance, neurons in the principal dopamine-producing areas in the brain are activated, causing dopamine levels to rise. Therefore, the brain receives a “reward” and associates the drug or activity with positive reinforcement. 
This is observable in social media usage; when an individual gets a notification, such as a like or mention, the brain receives a rush of dopamine and sends it along reward pathways, causing him or her to feel pleasure. Social media provides an endless amount of immediate rewards in the form of attention from others for relatively minimal effort. Therefore, the brain rewires itself through this positive reinforcement, making people desire likes, retweets, and emoticon reactions.
Another perpetuating factor of social media addiction is the fact that the reward centers of the brain are most active when people are talking about themselves. In real life, it’s estimated that people talk about themselves around 30 to 40% of the time; however, social media is all about showing off one’s life and accomplishments, so people talk about themselves a staggering 80% of the time. When a person posts a picture and gets positive social feedback, it stimulates the brain to release dopamine, which again rewards that behavior and perpetuates the social media habit.
Social media use becomes problematic when someone views social networking sites as an important coping mechanism to relieve stress, loneliness, or depression. For these people, social media use provides continuous rewards that they’re not receiving in real life, and end up engaging in the activity more and more. This continuous use eventually leads to multiple interpersonal problems, such as ignoring real life relationships, work or school responsibilities, and physical health, which may then exacerbate an individual’s undesirable moods. This then causes people to engage in the social networking behavior even more as a way of relieving dysphoric mood states. Consequently, when social network users repeat this cyclical pattern of relieving undesirable moods with social media use, the level of psychological dependency on social media increases. 
Social media can enhance your life by allowing you to connect with old friends and share important moments in your life. However, if not managed properly it can become an addiction that can consume your time and affect your work and relationships. Through stepping away from social media, assessing your addiction, and developing healthy social media habits, you can work through this issue and create a more balanced life. 
1. Review your past posts. As you begin working on combating your social networking addiction, you should first work to understand your social media usage. Take some time to review your posts from the past week or month. Write down how many things you posted in order to assess their frequency. Consider whether all the things you posted were necessary. For instance, if you posted about a meal you had or about going to get a haircut, consider whether or not posting those things brought you or anyone else any joy or contentment. 
2. Track your time online. If you are unsure of the extent of your addiction, you can determine how much time you spend by tracking your usage. Make a tick mark in a notebook each time you check a site. A more advanced and accurate way to determine usage, however, is to download an app designed to do so. Apps like QualityTime keep a count of how much time you spend on each social media site. Decide how much social media time seems reasonable; if you are exceeding that, it’s time to cut back. 
3. Acknowledge your addiction. Consider the times when others have constantly made comments to you about always being on social media. Think also of the times that you find yourself unable to keep up with your responsibilities. If you notice a pattern, then it is time to admit that you have a problem. Make a pact to commit to improving your situation. Remember that overcoming your denial and acknowledging your problem are the first steps. Take a break from your social media for one hour and assess how you feel. If you feel jittery or nervous, you might have an addiction. 
4. Reflect on your need for social media. Sometimes a social media addiction might arise out of having little to do or out of a need for attention or connection with others. Take some time to write down your thoughts about this to explore the root of the problem. After assessing the roots, develop a plan to address it. If your issues stem from boredom, then find fun things to do offline. 
5. Seek outside help. For some, the desire to use social media constantly might feel beyond their own control. If you feel that you are unable to escape from the addiction, seek help from a therapist trained in that area. There are also support groups available for people struggling with the same or similar issues. It can be helpful to feel that you are not alone in your addiction and to discuss potential solutions for the problem. Remember that there is no stigma in seeking help. 
6. Deactivate your accounts. After you have sufficiently assessed the issue, take a break from social media to clear your mind and begin breaking your bad habit. Deactivate your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and any other social media that you might have. This is a good way to give yourself space from your addiction without having to necessarily delete your accounts. During this time, develop a timeline for when and if you will get your social media back. Find healthy activities to replace your social media addiction. 
7. Remove cellphone apps. In addition to deactivating the accounts, in order to further deter your temptation, delete the apps from your phone. Not being able to see the apps on your home-screen may help you during this time of self reflection and habit-breaking. 
The research paper shows that how harmful might be the consequences of being too concerned about social media. However, we can’t deny the fact that it brings numerous benefits to our lives. Social media affects users differently. As this research shows everyone should recognize the addiction on time and take control of it.
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