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Social Media: Why We Are Addicted To The Internet

INSCMagazine: Get Social!

We’re in the age where we’re pretty much glued to our phones, tablets and laptops. With 80% of UK adults stating they think the internet is a good influence in their life, and almost half saying the internet makes them feel more in control of their life, it safe to say we’re addicted to the internet.

But what are the main things that are keeping us gripped?

Would you believe that in the survey the top activity that made men happiest was online dating sites (79%, but it was achieving the winning eBay bid (80%) that made women happiest!

An unlikely result to say the least, but one thing that was expected was social media having the biggest impact on mood – however, this is not necessarily for the better.

While 43% of 25-34-year olds say social media empowers them as an individual, 36% say that keeping up appearances online is a cause of anxiety for them. Sociologist Anna Akbari, PhD says:

“[An] incessant comparison erodes our self-worth and makes us question areas of our lives we perhaps previously felt content with. ‘Facebook facelifts’ are a real thing, and with the rise of Instagram, everyone feels pressure to look like a model all the time.”

43% agree that likes and shares of their images online make them feel more desirable, compared to 24% of adults overall. However, with good also comes bad, and millennials are also more likely to feel negatively about no one liking their new social media post or profile picture than any other generation.

As Akbari notes “… since most of these platforms are designed to be affirming, “likes,” retweets, and swiping “yes,” make our brain’s pleasure center light up in the same way a drug does. It is actually addicting. And so, we keep coming back for more affirmation. The validation is also carried out publicly, making it that much more rewarding.” It could be this reason that many people find themselves either glued to their phones or going on ‘social media detoxes’, by deleting the apps altogether.

So, can the internet really make us happy?

From experience, many of us already know the things that make us happier online, whether that’s shopping, dating or catching up with friends and family. However, Dr Pamela Rutledge also says:

“The internet itself doesn’t make you happy or sad. But it’s a very powerful tool that enables us to do activities that make us happy. Being mindful allows you to think of your online activities in relation to what you want to accomplish, just like you would evaluate offline activities.

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