How does social media addiction affect personal relationships?
This is how addiction to social networks limits people's ability to socialize.
There is no doubt that the development of new technologies linked to the Internet and electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets has meant that our ways of relating to others have diversified greatly.
However, it is one thing to quantitatively increase the options for communicating with others or hearing from them in real time, and another thing to increase our ability to connect with others qualitatively. In fact, there are quite a few cases in which the opposite is true: by integrating the constant use of Internet-connected devices into daily life, the person's social life is impoverished.
So-called social media addictions are a very clear example of this: when we abuse digital platforms such as Instagram or TikTok, that dependence becomes an obstacle to socializing in a full and satisfactory way. Let's see why this paradoxical phenomenon occurs.
What is social media addiction?
What is known as social media addiction is a pattern of behavior characterized by. the abuse of digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other websites and applications that keep people interconnected on the Internet and able to publish and consume content..
This excessive use of social networks makes the person feel a constant need to review new content that has been uploaded to the network (and/or to contribute content very frequently), so that he or she loses control of his or her actions and is less able to manage time well and concentrate on other important day-to-day tasks and actions.
Due to this psychological phenomenon, people who develop this dependency link to social networks (which are usually very young people, although it can occur in all ages) begin to feel significantly unwell after spending minutes or hours without access to a computer or a cell phone with an Internet connectionand this interferes with their quality of life.
Addiction to social networks is not a psychopathology comparable to, for example, addiction to alcohol or heroin; the way in which it develops and takes shape in people's behavior is not the same as that of the addictive disorders that appear in the diagnostic manuals, so technically it is not an addiction, but another type of problem related to dependence.
However, that it does not form part of these psychopathologies does not mean that it cannot become a source of intense discomfort or even an element that increases the predisposition to develop diseases and very severe mental health problems. and very severe mental health problems. That is why, in situations of this type, it is important to start a psychological treatment process as soon as possible.
How does social network addiction affect the development of socialization skills?
The impact that social network addiction has on quality of life goes beyond the relationships we have with others; for example, it can lead to dysfunctional ways of managing anxiety and facilitate the onset of disorders such as substance abuse or Eating Disorders. However, here we are going to focus on its effects on the way we socialize and maintain meaningful bonds with the people around us..
So, let's see how addiction to social networks affects the social life of the person who develops it.
1. It limits your communication skills
It is no secret that most social networks are not designed to express oneself by taking advantage of the richness of verbal language.The use of short and colorful messages tends to be prioritized, something that has even given rise to certain cultural dynamics when it comes to expressing oneself, such as the use of hashtags or emoticons to simplify ideas.
This makes people who devote much of their time to the use of social networks miss opportunities to practice a more elaborate way of expressing themselves, which allows them to spin ideas and arguments.
2. It can lead to patterns of avoidance of face-to-face interactions.
Addiction to social networks can lead the person to try to replace all their ways of socializing with interactions through the Internet, considering it a "safe" way of socializing.This is considered a "safe" way that does not expose their vulnerabilities and prevents them from having to improvise face-to-face and/or manage their non-verbal language.
In other words, it gives rise to a feeling of comfort zone that, although not conscious, is limiting the person from developing communication skills that are very necessary in real life.
This fact, in addition to impoverishing the social life of the person, makes him/her feel very anxious or afraid of situations in which he/she feels pressure to meet strangers or semi-unknown people face to face.
3. It leads to situations of frustration
Those who develop addiction to social relationships notices that any face-to-face interaction that distracts them from concentrating on the screen is a problem, an obstacle that bothers them..
That is why arguments at home are frequent, especially when the person's family members or partner begin to express their dissatisfaction with the tendency to isolate themselves from that person.
4. Makes listening to others more difficult
The bombardment of stimuli to which social network abusers are subjected means that, even when they are not surfing the Internet, these people always have a flood of memories and mental images crossing their consciousness. a flood of memories and mental images crossing their consciousness. This is a great source of distractions in all areas of life, and one of them is conversations with others..... These people often find it difficult to concentrate and keep their attention focused on what the other person is trying to convey face to face.
For example, it is not uncommon that instead of listening to what the other person explains to them, they are thinking about what they will do when they sit down in front of the computer and see what a user of a social network has responded to them in the last few minutes, or that in a meeting they are picking up the phone every few minutes to simply look at their social networks, disconnecting from the people they are physically with.
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I am an expert psychologist in individualized, family and couple intervention with more than a decade of professional experience in this field, and I attend online by video call.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)