My reflections on my work as a psychiatrist in Singapore, life, death and everything in between. For official contacts: Call 64796456 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Web: www.psywellness.com.sg
Monday, 18 September 2017
Social Media Addiction Q and A. Part 1
Are such social media addiction cases on the rise in comparison to previous years? If so, what is the increase?
The numbers have been quite similar in the past two to three years. It became more of an issue since smart phone usage proliferated.
Do you think this is an issue that is set to grow bigger?
Before it was mainly Facebook, but now there is Instagram, Snapchat etc. Internet and social media addiction have been a problem in the past decade since Facebook. The app used may change but the underlying harmful and addictive use of social media apps remains fundamentally the same.
Which sites are patients addicted to? What type of symptoms do patients with this form of addiction present with?
Most patients are addicted to a number of websites and apps. These may include common social media platforms, photo sharing apps, music / karaoke apps, internet gaming with social elements and online forums. They tend to spend excessive amounts of time on social media. This leads to harm and disruption in their life, such as missing school or not fulfilling their daily responsibilities. They later need to spent more and more time on social media in order to get the same tkick as before. Eventually, social media may become the centre of their life and they are perpetually preoccupied with using it or thinking constantly of going on it all the time. When denied usage, they may feel very uncomfortable or even become agitated.
What is the typical profile of the patients you see? Any university students?
Many are teens to young adults. Both male and female. Almost always school going. There are university students as well.
Do the patients present with any co-occurring addiction or other medical conditions?
They usually present with co-morbid insomnia, depression and anxiety disorders.
What causes social media addiction?
Causes are unknown. They may be related to genetic predisposition to behavioral addiction. Patients may have derive pleasure and excitement from having likes, followers or positive comments from their posts and this lead to reinforcement of the behavior of excessive usage. In fact, it appears that individuals with little "real life" social networks tend to more easily fall prey to social media addictions. In cases with insomnia, they may find social media a means of dealing with their sleeplessness, having no one to talk to in the wee hours. Many with anxiety disorders and depression resort to using social media as a means to reach the outside world when they are withdrawn at home. The thrills and excitement they derive from social media and internet gaming may be the only stimulation they derive from life leading to excessive usage and addiction.