Social media madness
Students struggle with networking addiction
Caitlin Taylor | Collegio Reporter
Some social media users throw around the phrase “I’m addicted to Facebook” liberally, but according to some PSU students and a professor, it’s just something to do.
Kristen Humphrey, assistant professor of social work, says that if social media could be an addiction then it would be a behavioral addiction, much like gambling.
“People use the term ‘addiction’ loosely,” Humphrey said. “All the time, people say things like, ‘I’m addicted to chocolate’ or ‘I’m addicted to Netflix,’ but they don’t really mean addiction in the clinical sense.”
Courtney Snyder says she uses Facebook and Twitter, but she doesn’t think that she is addicted to social media.
Utilizing the tool
“I think our generation definitely uses these social networks frequently, and I do think some people are addicted,” said Snyder, junior in chemistry. “With that being said, I also think that our generation uses these networks in positive ways as a means of organizing and advertising events and keeping up with friends and family. Just because you might look at your notifications in between classes doesn’t make you an addict.”
Snyder says that she doesn’t use social media sites frequently enough to affect her schoolwork or life but gets on from time to time when it is convenient.
“I use both of these sites mainly to keep up with my peers,” Snyder said.
Social media gaming
Other students like Denise Southard believe that social media can become an addiction. Southard says she is addicted to playing spades on Facebook and sometimes on other sites as well.
“I would say I’m usually on Facebook for four or five hours a day, if Facebook mobile counts,” said Southard, freshman in elementary education. “I play spades on Facebook all the time. When I’m not doing that I am just checking notifications and just looking at people’s profiles and pictures.”
On the brain
Humphrey says that the activity usually starts out as something fun but, after time, the person experiences discomfort when they try avoiding the activity. She says that they feel the need to do the activity, like get on Facebook, and they feel relief when they finally give in. The activity may be interfering with other parts of their life, but they continue to feel compelled to, and continue to, do it.
“So, for someone to be addicted to social media (keep in mind that there is not an official diagnosis for this), they would feel upset when having to wait to log in,” Humphrey said. “They would feel preoccupied by it and compelled to log in and communicate and then feel relief after finally getting on their social media site. They may have friends, families or instructors complaining about it, but they keep doing it anyway. They may make a decision to cut back but have trouble changing their behaviors.”
Southard says she thinks she is addicted to Facebook because every time she gets online, even if she has to write a paper, the first thing she usually does is get on Facebook, without even recognizing that she is doing it.
“I started using Facebook freshman year in high school,” Southard said. “I started using it because everyone else was and I wanted to try it and I really liked it. I think it’s because it’s an easy way to see what is going on in other people’s lives without actually talking to them. So many people these days are really bad at keeping conversations when you’re face-to-face.”
Humphrey says other things can also impact the addiction such as depression, anxiety, social isolations and other addictions. She says people who are spending lots of time using social media are usually spending less time doing other things. Humphrey says that social media can be a way to avoid things they are uncomfortable with or don’t want to do.
“It is easy to jump on Facebook instead of reading the article you’re supposed to be reading,” Humphrey said. “It can be easier to send a text to a friend than talk to the classmate who is sitting next to you in class.”