One thing that is important to understand, especially for someone with phone addiction, is that the internet and social media have been designed to be addictive. This is hard to swallow for some at first because there are many positive aspects to social media.
Connecting with friends and distant family members, keeping up to date with societal and current life events, finding entertaining content, discovering communities for people who share similar interests – these are all wonderful benefits to using social media. However, the drawbacks are very serious and in the worst-case scenarios and to the most extreme extent, they can even be deadly.
Regular, compulsive usage of social media has been proven to be detrimental to a person’s mental health. This can sadly be observed in the suicide trend among adolescent girls, which drastically and exponentially increased during the time social media became a regularly utilized platform. Social scientists and other experts agree that this rise in suicidal behavior can be attributed to the need to be validated by people online, as well as many other factors regarding the presentation of self-image and the over-exposure of people’s personal lives.
Consider the fact that most of the innovative minds who participated in the creation of many social media applications do not even allow their children to use social media. You read that correctly. The people who invented these platforms, who know the most about the systems, understand that they would cause their own children harm.
This sole fact alone should be enough to convince a person of the dangers of social media, if not make a parent wary of allowing their child unlimited access to a smartphone. Many of these people who were involved with famous social media apps will speak frankly about the intentions of the platforms.
At the end of the day, even if these apps are useful for keeping people connected, an app is still a product that a company wants you to use. These companies are paid through the ads that you see while you are using the apps, which are personalized because they are also selling your data.
The social media giants are incentivized to get you to use their apps as frequently as possible, and it is even better for them when you provide as much information about yourself as possible too. It is imperative that a social media user begins to consider these apps not only as services provided but as products to be consumed.
Just like how dessert companies want children to buy more candy bars and so they put excessive amounts of sugar in their products, these social media companies use a bunch of tricks and design features to keep their audience coming back again and again.
Regardless of what happens to your mental health, these social media companies make more money the more frequently you use them. They even encourage people to spend as much time as possible on their apps, so that they can harvest more data to sell to a third-party source.
Social media engineers have explained that there are many subconscious psychological tricks designed to keep people addicted to their devices. One way designers engage younger generations on their apps is by using bright colors, simplistic shapes, and animations (such as stickers.)
Content-based media apps have developed something experts refer to as “the endless scroll.” This means that the user does not have to put essentially any effort into discovering new content. New material is constantly being presented to the social media user, so they are encouraged to remain on the site for as long as possible.
Many people using social media will have to admit this has happened to them at least once in their life – they may have been intending to check their social media, just to keep on top of new events, and somehow through endlessly scrolling then the sun is setting and they have magically “lost” a few hours out of their day.
One more popular tactic many social media apps have employed to keep people addicted to their product is the humble “like” button. People want to be liked, and on social media, there was a point where likes and shares meant everything to a person. People find themselves obsessively checking the likes on their posts, driven by a desire to be validated by others. This has made the internet more of a popularity contest than a communal educational endeavor.
The well-being of the consumer is not considered holistically at all, which is truly the most detrimental aspect of social media.