How many times have you logged onto Facebook today?
In a time when your mobile phone is an extra limb, girls feel comfortable posting about period pain and the Oxford dictionary has added selfie as an actual word; everyone is online.
We must ask ourselves – when does it change from harmless socialising to a full blown addiction?
A psychology professor from California State University, Dr. Delinah Hurwitz, has suggested that individuals overuse social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter because of an addiction to the endorphins released in the body during the process of posting.
Endorphins, a chemical produced by the body that acts as a sedative, travels through the body to the brain every time someone responds to their post.
The symptoms of social media addiction are almost identical to that of a drug addiction with the mutual goal being to relieve stress and experience happiness.
Drug users would experience a “high” by taking heroin or ice. A social networking addict would feel a “high” while posting a status or tweet. This high continues as the user waits for recognition and praise through the form of notifications.
Like drug addictions, a social networking addiction induces withdrawal symptoms. Deactivating your Facebook for a week would be “like such a disaster”, right?
Melissa Henricks, features writer for the Newsroom, is a self-confessed social media addict.
“I delete a picture on Instagram if it doesn’t have more than eleven likes,” said Melissa.
Melissa, along with many other Macleay students, reaches for her phone first thing after she wakes up. Sleep, a normal and essential function of the human body, controls the urge; however, once awake, Melissa returns her attention to social media.
“I check it to see what has happened while I was sleeping, like if a famous couple broke up over night or something,” said Melissa.
Another Macleay student, Heba Dandachi, said she often feels or hears her phone vibrate and is disappointed when she realises it is just a “figment of her imagination.”
Perth psychologist Tony White told ABC News that he has treated 30 to 40 people who are social media addicts, most of them adolescents.
“Usually it’s the parents who bring them, like with any addiction, the person using it doesn’t see it as a problem,” he said.
Mr White believes that social media use transforms into a problem when it interferes with daily life.
“I guess a couple of hours a day is probably okay, if you’re getting up to 5, 6, 7 hours then that is a lot of time to be spending on a computer every day.”
So how do you know if you’re addicted to social media?
The Newsroom has compiled a list of tell tale signs you should exit the browser.
1. You “check in” everywhere you go.
2. You say “lol”, “totes” or “probs” in a conversation along with “hashtag”, #addict or “hashtag addict.”
3. You wake up with your phone in your hand.
4. You get upset if no one comments on your Facebook post.
5. You like your own posts or pictures on Facbeook.
6. You “go to the toilet” to check your notifications.
7. You can’t go out to dinner without posting a picture of your main course.
8. You check your phone every ten minutes.
9. You feel or hear your phone vibrate, even when it doesn’t.
10. You want to cry if 3G is not available on your phone. – Photo and report by Alana Scott