Studies and researches continue to claim that social media addiction is something pretty serious. Earlier, studies have linked how much time you spend on Facebook or Twitter to real world health issues like sleep disorders, anxiety and depression. Now, a study by researchers at Michigan State University shows it also affects the way people make life choices or daily decisions, though it is not yet clear if whatever choices social media addicts make is because of the time they spend on Facebook or Twitter or if they spend a lot of time on these sites because they make these sort of choices.
The research paper shows that the some behavioural patterns of social media addicts are similar to those of someone addicted to drugs like cocaine and heroin. Or in other words, what the researchers might be implying is that social media addiction is as bad as surrendering your life to an addictive drug.
Published in the Journal of Behavior Addictions, the study included 71 participants who had to rate their Facebook usage using the psychological measure called Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS). Developed by Dr Cecilie Andraessen at the University of Bergen, BFAS with six items examines the elements of addiction related to Facebook. Scoring four or more “often” or “very often” of the items indicate Facebook addiction.
The study subjects also had to take the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a popular psychological task thought to determine the real-life decision making abilities. The research team chose the Facebook platform because it is currently the most popular social media platform across the globe with over billion daily active users. Users taking gambling task are shown four virtual decks of cards to select the possible deck. By the end of the gambling task, the researchers found that those who performed poor by choosing bad decks were people using social media excessively. The better performers used social media less. The researchers also assessed level of depression in the subjects. The study shows that people with substance abuse have a similar outcome on the Iowa Gambling Task indicating their decision making abilities are similar to what Facebook addicts demonstrated.
“Social networking sites users also experience conflict with others because of their use, and when attempting to quit, they display withdrawal symptoms and often relapse,” says the report.
There have been a number of studies in the last few years that reveal the dark side of social media. An old survey report from Royal Society for Public Health showed that social media addiction can cause anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and bullying. The survey that engaged some 1,500 people aged between 14 and 24, revealed that Instagram was the worst when it came to addiction and its bad effects. One of the subjects said that bullying on Instagram depressed them and even compelled them to attempt suicide. Facebook and Snapchat ranked third and fourth respectively on the list.