Social media networks helped facilitate a more innovative way for people to stay connected regardless of the physical distance. Even business owners flocked into the social media scene to promote their products and services. Due to this advancement in the communications and technological front, social media networks are now used to measure current and potential buyers’ behavior that can likely affect market trends and consumption patterns.
However, this phenomenon paved the way for a new kind of addiction. Nowadays, social media addicts comprise a noticeable percentage of Netizens. In a study conducted by the University of Chicago, results showed that Facebook and Twitter, the top two leading social sites, are more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol.
Addiction to anything should be taken seriously, as the term “addict” immediately connotes that a stimulant changes the way a person behaves. For instance, a study by Anxiety UK showed that social media causes anxiety, as 45% of its respondents said they feel uncomfortable and worried when they are not able to access their social accounts and emails. Moreover, 60% of the respondents even said they need to switch off their gadgets altogether just to refrain themselves from checking their social media accounts.
With these in mind, what are the common effects of social media addiction?
Lack of focus on work and/or studies
This is the greatest effect of social media. Since users are in need to be constantly updated on what’s going on in their own network, they tend to forgo some of the things that need to be attended to, giving the excuse that they are simply online to communicate with friends. If this continues, it can lead to one losing his or her job or ultimately flunking out of school.
Detached social life
The more time one spends online, the lesser time he or she spends in the real world. Having a healthy social life is important to develop a person’s emotional quotient. Having kids and teenagers spend hours online, however, hinders their social interaction with people. Confidence and self-esteem are also affected and can be a cause of a multitude of other effects.
Neil Vidyarthi, managing editor of Social Times, believes that social networking opens doors for voyeuristic tendencies, as users can easily peek into other people’s lives. Every user of any social networking site can gain access to the details of another user (e.g. current location), whether they are direct contacts or virtual strangers, despite the privacy settings involved.
Another controversial effect of social media is its widespread use for cyber-bullying. Many people have cried out to stop this from happening. But considering the number of users and no one to regulate online activities, it is still predominantly happening.
Social media has helped users bridge that physical gap with their friends and relatives. However, the adverse effects of its frequent use have also started to show. The question remains then: is social media a good thing or a bad thing? The answer to this is quite simple—as the old adage goes, anything used in excess becomes bad. Regulation is the only way users can provide a clear demarcation line between their real life and their cyber life.
About the Author
Jared Mumford is the Co-Founder and CEO of SEO Visions, a Vancouver SEO Company that provides Online Marketing Solutions for different types of business.