Social Media is Designed to be Addictive
Social Media sites such as Facebook and Instagram are unavoidable in today’s world. Teens all over the world are spending 5+ hours a day online, from tweeting to instagramming, to commenting on pictures and sending Snapchats; it’s non stop. But why do we spend so much time on Social Media? Why do we seem to get “FOMO” (fear of missing out) when offline? We are addicted to Social Media because our favourite platforms are purposely making it an addictive experience. But how and why do Social Media sites make it so addictive?
Why are these platforms designed to be so addictive? Well, companies such as Facebook and Twitter give you a free experience, and you never pay a dime to use the site. However, these platforms need to make money, so resort to advertising for income. In order for these companies to make money from advertisements, they need the user to be exposed to as much advertisements as possible. So, how do these sites do this? They make their platforms as addictive as possible to increase the amount of time users spend on the site, which increases their revenue.
So, how exactly do Social Media sites keep you hooked? They use various techniques to increase the amount of time you’re spending online.
Manipulating Brain Chemistry
An article by sciencefocus.com says that social media companies use techniques to manipulate your brain chemistry, making you addicted to using social media. Often compared to as a casino machine, social media platforms such as Facebook use methods such as ‘pull to refresh’ to change your brain chemistry and altar your state of mind. According to the article, it adds an element of ‘unpredictability’ to the experience, creating apprehension when using this app. The unpredictability of new news, notifications, chats etc keeps users hooked to their platform.
Endless feeds is also a factor in keeping users addicted to the platform. When looking through a news feed, there is rarely an end to the scrolling. This keeps users online for longer, and as a result, increasing ad revenue for the site.
Dopamine is the chemical in our brain that gives us that ‘feel good’ factor, and is addictive. Just the same as after a workout, dopamine is released while using social media and creates positive associations with social media use. To encourage dopamine release, developers have created features within their apps. For example, ‘streaks’ on Snapchat is a feature which shows how many days in a row you have sent and received images from a friend.
The higher the streak, the better. Once you miss one day of snapchatting a friend, you lose your streak. To keep this up, you need to Snapchat every day. The satisfaction of getting a high streak score, and the fear of losing it keeps users coming back to the app. ‘Likes’ on sites such as Facebook and Instagram work in a similar way. Every time you get a like on a post, dopamine is released and you get that happy feeling. This makes you want to post more often in order to obtain more likes, and results in keeping you coming back to the site.
Signs of social media addiction
Are you worried that your child is addicted to social media? Here are some common warning signs for social media, gaming or internet addiction.
Time Spent Online
If your child spends far too much time online, this could be a key indicator that your child has a social media addiction.
Loss of Sleep
Losing sleep due to excessive night time use of social media is a major indicator of social media addiction. Waking up in the middle of the night and checking social media, as well as over sleeping the following morning are warning signs for addiction.
Anxiety or Anger
Feelings of anxiety or anger when you are unable to access social media is a symptom of social media addiction. People may become agitated, angry or upset when access to their phone or social media is restricted.
Neglect of personal/social life
Neglecting your personal and social life with the intention of spending more time on social media is another warning sign of social media addiction. If your child’s social life has suffered due to too much time online, they could be suffering from social media addiction.
To tackle social media addiction in children and teens, it is your responsibility as a parent to control the amount of time they spend on their devices. This is the same for other addictions such as online gaming, YouTube etc. We know its difficult to get your child to give up their phone, and it often ends in arguments with no results. Luckily, iKydz is the perfect solution to this problem.
iKydz is a parental control tool, allowing you to manage online time on your child’s device, create online schedules, cut off internet access and block and restrict apps. It can be used on multiple devices in your home, all from one easy to use app.
iKydz is the perfect parental control router to ensure your child has balance in life, and is kept safe online.
With iKydz award-winning internet controls you can:
• Filter content
• Schedule online access
• Block unsuitable websites and apps
• Apply restrictions to YouTube
• Block or manage access to social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Snapchat
• Block and manage online gaming such as Roblox and Fortnite