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?”
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 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.
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.