Why I can’t stop scrolling my social media?

“Have you found yourself promise just to open Instagram from 30 minutes but ended up using it for one hour or even two hours?”

A wide range of social media. Illustration by Blogtrepreneur via Flickr.

If yes, you’re not alone on this planet, so hanging there. According to the study of Pennsylvania University, five to 10 per cent of internet users are psychologically addicted to social media, and their brain is similar to those of drug-dependent brains. Another study by the marketers at Mediakix reveals that people spend more time on social media than the combination of eating, drinking, and socializing each day.

Why is social media so addictive?

When we talk about any addiction forms, it’s always correlated with brain chemistry. Here, our brain loves social media notifications. Whenever we see a notification from our social media sites, either from Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, our brain releases a small amount of dopamine.

Dopamine is a chemical produced by the brain when we feel rewarded or pleasure. It also releases when we eat a bite of delicious food, consume drugs, do exercise or gambling, and now social media.

In the brain, dopamine acts as a neurotransmitter and the chemical is released in the cell body of neurons. Dopamine is responsible for the communication mode of cell-to-cell in the nervous system. The communication takes place in the axon or nerve fibre, a long slender projection of a nerve cell that transmits information to different neurons, muscles and glands through electrical impulse system.

The dopamine pathways and their related cognitive processes. Image by Oscar Arias-Carrión et al via commons.wikimedia.org.
The dopamine pathways and their related cognitive processes. Image by Oscar Arias-Carrión et al via commons.wikimedia.org.

The brain includes several distinct dopamine pathways, a set of projection neurons that release the neurotransmitter dopamine. These “pathways” or connections act as highways for chemical messages which each of them is associated with its cognitive processes. The three pathways are mesocortical, nigrostriatal, and mesolimbic pathway.

While they are different in terms of anatomical organization, all of them become active when experiencing rewarding or pleasurable events. Principally, they work to associate a particular stimulus with the feel-good reward that follows.

Every time the stimulus comes and responds in a reward, the association becomes stronger and intense through a process called long-term potentiation. Although it’s not as intense as a hit of cocaine, social stimuli such us laughing faces, positive recognition by our peers, messages from loved ones also result in a release of dopamine.

Social media notification. Image by James Sudakow via inc.com.

In this scenario, the smartphone offers a virtually unlimited supply of social stimuli from like, mention, or notification from Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Once we get these stimuli, our brain receives a rush of dopamine and sends it along the dopamine pathways, makes us feel pleasure at the end. If this dopamine-triggering behaviour becomes a habit, we then become addicted.

Without neglecting the social benefit of using social media (i.e. staying in touch with old friends and receiving positive feedback), addicted to social media are also associated with negative impacts such as stress, lower mood, anxiety, lack of sleep and even depression.

But there’s no need to uninstall those apps on our phone, especially because they also help us in many ways. Using it in moderation amount of time and turn off all notifications are some of my best strategies. How about you, don’t you have other ways to cope with your social media addiction? Please, let us know and help each other.

Class of 2020, Adhe Siska.

11 Responses to “Why I can’t stop scrolling my social media?”

  1. […] Having a hard time getting off social media once you’re on […]

  2. asiska says:

    almost all people in the entire planet haha

  3. asiska says:

    how about started by turnoff all notification for social media. see this activity as a reward, so you only allow to open once you finish your study. cheeers

  4. asiska says:

    hahahha same. Im trying my best to do exercise, it also can produce dopamine

  5. pgaur says:

    so this is not only me who is so obsessed by social media. GLAD TO KNOW !!!

  6. fangfeih says:

    That is me!! I have to uninstall my social media apps every time before important deadlines or they would spend lots of time! Maybe I need to find a balance, try to find a hobby which could also provide myself enough dopamine.

  7. zitingy says:

    I suspect you are watching me hahaha. Social media can be addictive. Every day at midnight I can’t bear to put down my phone and go to sleep. This is not conducive to health and the next day of study. I haven’t found any way to get rid of it. Maybe I should find an active hobby so I don’t have so much free time.

  8. asiska says:

    What kind of documentary is that?? It must be good to watch. I must watching it after this. Let’s go together have a productive day instead 🙂

  9. asiska says:

    Just use in moderation time honey haha. You know what, I also struggle not to be addicted to using Instagram. The fact that I don’t have online shopping like you should be a good reason for me not to spend much time on this app. Let’s have a productive day instead 🙂

  10. cmcentee says:

    Really enjoyed this, and appreciated the amount of detail given on the brain/processes at play.. A great read and very good timing after having just watched the new documentary – Social Dilemma. I am now determined to cut back my screen time!!

  11. mkahirupan says:

    This is so me, addicted to social media. I used to uninstall all social media during exam or assignment time because I thought those apps are distractions and made me insomnia (?). Later I realized that I need social media to keep me sane in my hard times. However, I did also turn off all notification to reduce the distractions caused by these awesome apps. I have online shop in social media so I couldn’t stop using it!