Facebook and Addiction: are we dependent on social media use?

There is a scene in the movie The Social Network, the fictional telling of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, when Sam Parker, played Justin Timberlake describes his vision for Facebook. He says that one day, everyone will let everyone else know what they’re doing all the time. Worse, they’re going to stay logged in all day to watch what everyone else is doing.

Today, Facebook has more than a billion active users every month. Social media marketing has become an entire professional industry because of the way Facebook has integrated its way into all sectors of life. “Are you on Facebook?”has become synonymous with asking if someone has a phone number. The profiled life lives in an alternate reality at www.facebook.com.

Technology shapes culture. Culture shapes technology. In between, we are individually impacted by the way each are developing. Research is being extensively done to investigate the effect of Facebook on our lives- from our relationships to our businesses to our brains. Facebook and addiction are being used in the same studies. Evidence is being found that Facebook and social media aren’t just things we do, but a way that we are. Using Facebook changes our brain.

Harvard Business Review wrote in depth about the various ways Facebook affects the brain. One important aspect to consider when it comes to discussing Facebook and addiction is how social media stimulates the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for sending signals of pleasure. Social media directly influences our reward center, stimulating the production of dopamine. As we learn in addiction, dopamine can change the way our midbrain processes priorities, and even contributes to the development of a dependence. Can we become dependent on social media? As of yet, there are limited cases of debilitating Facebook addiction. Symptoms of social media, like cyberbullying, have caused an increase in suicides. Famous Instagrammers are having public mental breakdowns over the lack of authenticity in their lives. Facebook addiction may never take lives on the scale that drugs like heroin do. When mental health and quality of life is compromised, however, because of behavior and activity, there is something worth looking at.

Refuge Recovery understands the changing dynamic of the internet in our lives. We offer treatment programs for internet addiction, because we understand the way any kind of addiction works in the brain. If you feel you may be losing out on your life due to your relationship with the internet, call Refuge Recovery  today at 323-207-0276.

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