Addiction to social media: causes, consequences, and solutions


In this article, I will explain what social media addiction is, the causes, the consequences, and the solutions to treat this addiction.

Table of contents

Social networks constitute a new form of interaction, a new door that generates different possibilities in personal and professional relationships.

The causes of the popularity of social networks are due to many factors, what is undeniable is that today it represents one of the pillars of communication.

However, sometimes the use of social networks carries significant risk. This happens when people reduce their universe to the constant filter of social networks, displacing face-to-face links to the background.

Addiction to social networks is part of a new type of pathology: behavioral addictions, a real fact that causes a lot of suffering to those who suffer from it.

A new reality that requires comprehensive treatment and new professional training such as master's degrees and postgraduate degrees in behavioral addictions.

For this reason, I explain in this article the causes, consequences, and solutions of addiction to social networks.

Phone with social media icon
Phone with social media icon

What are behavioral addictions?

Internet addiction is very common among young people and adults who have become accustomed to using online mediums but do so in an obsessive way. However, it is not the only addiction without substance that exists, recently, various attitudes related to addiction have begun to be studied but that do not involve the consumption of any external toxin, these behaviors are known as behavioral addictions.

Today, they are considered one of the most abundant mental disorders in Western society, we can divide these addictions according to the stimulus that the dependency produces:

In order to address these behaviors, it is necessary to be able to study their origin, maintenance, and the various ways of treating them.

For this purpose, specific training for psychology professionals, courses, and postgraduate courses in behavioral addictions are born, whose objective is to shed a little more light on this phenomenon of recent appearance.

Causes of addiction to social media

There are different reasons that condition the need to be connected to social media. Next, we will see the main causes of addiction to social networks.

1. Normalization of the use of social networks

One of the causes of addiction to social networks that influences the development of dependency, for example, Instagram, is the naturalness with which so many people share photos, write comments and interact with others.

A positive and creative experience that ceases to be so at the moment in which the person no longer enjoys it, but feels that her will is subdued by the constant need for interaction.

2. Loneliness

The Internet is a window of social relationships for everyone. However, those who experience a period of loneliness are more vulnerable to the risk of dependency because they see this vehicle of communication as a substitute for those emotional gaps and deficiencies.

3. Ego feeding

Some Instagram image galleries project a universe in which vanity seems to be a constant based on images starring someone who shows endless smiles and a dreamy lifestyle.

Thus, another cause of addiction to social networks is this desire to show an image of perfection and also receive feedback in the form of "like". A type of language that offers an immediate and different interaction to that of face-to-face relationships.

It is a risk to confuse the number of followers with the value of self-esteem.

4. Lack of limits

Adolescence is one of the periods in which young people are most vulnerable due to the lack of discernment of the possible risks of social networks. The lack of training on the positive use of social networks can increase confusion.

This is one of the reasons why parents also have the responsibility to educate themselves to know the potential of social networks and technology in order to make good use of it, since, in addition, the parents' own example also influences the children.

5. Personal difficulties

If we talk about the causes of social networks, in terms of additions, the barriers in terms of social skills can make a person feel more comfortable when interacting through the Internet.

The risk of this is that the patient develops stress and anxiety when they have to face face-to-face situations that go outside their comfort zone.

Consequences of addiction to social networks

The dependence generated by social media can negatively affect people. The main consequences of addiction to social networks are the following:

  • Difficulty maintaining concentration: Although a person is physically present in one place, his mind may be in another completely different. One of the consequences of addiction to social networks is that the person compulsively consults any detail, leaving the direct reality of everyday life in the background.
  • Alteration of sleep and rest habits: the tendency to live glued to a screen alters the rhythm of life in factors as essential as these. For example, the habit of checking the phone at night delays the time of sleep or interrupts the night's rest.
  • Distortion of reality: the person behaves as if the mobile phone were an extension of their being as important as a part of their own organism. For example, one of the consequences of addiction to social networks is that there is a loss of intimacy. The person comes to the conclusion that a moment is happier if he shares it with others.
  • Lack of care for privacy: as a consequence of this loss of the sphere of intimacy, those who suffer from addiction to social networks lose control of the information they share about themselves, that is, they do not realize the amount of data about their own lives that they facilitate to others. People who, in many cases, do not even know the person.
  • Inner emptiness: social networks are marked by constant interaction, but also by the ephemeral nature of this form of expression. A photograph shared on Facebook a few weeks ago is completely out of date today. For this reason, this excess of activity that remains on the plane of superficiality leaves behind an immense feeling of emptiness in the face of the high emotional demand for recognition from others.

Solutions to treat social media addiction

Once you have seen the causes and consequences of social networks, the first step to solving this addiction is to become aware of the problem.

Be honest with yourself and observe this limitation to understand how this addiction is affecting you, not only in your personal life but also academically or professionally.

In addition, given the consequences of addiction to social networks, it is advisable to ask for psychological help from an expert specialized in the field to do therapy. The expert will make a diagnosis of the initial situation to, from that moment, specify an individualized treatment that increases the resilience of the affected person in the face of those stimuli that generate some type of discomfort.

How to prevent social media addiction

Beyond the specific treatment that can be considered as a solution, it is advisable to take measures to prevent addiction to social media. Next, we will see what should be done in these cases:

  • Always prioritize your face-to-face relationships and conversations: this is a reference premise so as not to make a medium such as social networks an end in itself.
  • Enjoy the expansion of intimacy from freedom: when you enjoy a plan, forget about photographing that moment to upload it to your networks. It is better that you observe the details of that day to save them and feel them in the memory of your retinas. Does that mean you can never take a picture? It means that you have to find the balance between living and taking pictures when they really have a meaning.
  • Turn off your mobile phone for three hours each day or leave it in a different room when you are at home. It is recommended that you train practical and concrete ideas to enjoy social networks with measure. To do this, you can also set a usage schedule and specify a time of day when you look at them for the last time.
  • Remember what your life was like before the advent of social media: essentially, it was exactly the same as it is now. If you need to remember that time, then enjoy old movies that show you a pre-tech lifestyle.
  • Educational training: it is recommended that academic centers schedule talks on this subject for teachers, parents, and students. Talks that deal with addiction to social networks, its causes, consequences, and how to treat it.

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  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). Pan American Publisher.
  • Joseph J. Sandler. (1986). The patient and the analyst: the clinical framework of psychoanalysis. Editorial Paidos, Barcelona.
Disclaimer: This article is purely informative, I have no authority to make a diagnosis or recommend treatment. I invite you to visit a psychologist to treat your particular case.