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Understanding Social Addictions

Understanding Social Addictions

“Mrs Baze is worried. Her daughter Lydia has become completely dependent on social media. She spends the majority of her time on social media platforms and gets very defensive if anyone confronts her about it. Mrs Baze is worried. Can a person become addicted to social media?” 

In present society, social interactions have become increasingly dependent on technology, leading to a new range of addictive behaviours. These addictive behaviours are often termed social addictions. Social addictions are characterized by excessive engagement in social activities, often to the detriment of one's physical and mental well-being.  

Understanding the types of social addictions and their impact is crucial in addressing and managing these behaviours effectively. Some social addictions include:  

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1. Social Media Addiction 

  Social media addiction involves compulsive and excessive use of social networking platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. People who use social media problematically may exhibit signs such as spending excessive time online, neglecting real-life responsibilities,  constantly checking for notifications, and experiencing anxiety or distress when unable to access social media. Social media addiction can lead to decreased productivity, disrupted sleep patterns, low self-esteem, and feelings of isolation. It can also worsen mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. 

2. Internet Gaming Disorder 

Playing games on the internet can be a pleasing recreational activity but for some people, internet gaming can become a disorder. Internet gaming disorder refers to excessive and compulsive gaming behavior, particularly seen in people who enjoy online multi-player games. Similar to social media addiction, people with internet gaming disorder may exhibit the following signs: preoccupation with gaming, withdrawal symptoms when not gaming, loss of interest in other activities, and continued gaming despite negative consequences. They may become socially isolated, have poor academic or occupational performance, disrupted sleep patterns, and physical health problems due to prolonged sedentary behavior. 

3.Online Shopping Addiction 

Online shopping addiction is characterised by excessive and compulsive internet shopping.  The signs of this disorder includes frequent and impulsive online purchases, spending beyond one's means, buying items one does not need, hiding or lying about shopping habits, and feeling guilt or remorse after shopping. Online shopping addiction can lead to financial problems, debt accumulation, strain on personal relationships, and feelings of emptiness or dissatisfaction. It may also contribute to hoarding behaviours. 

4. Cybersex Addiction 

Cybersex addiction refers to compulsive engagement in online sexual activities, including pornography consumption, sexting, and virtual encounters. Spending excessive time engaging in online sexual activities, neglecting real-life relationships, experiencing distress or guilt related to sexual behavior, and difficulty controlling sexual urges are common signs of this disorder. Cybersex addiction can lead to relationship conflicts, decreased intimacy, distorted views of sexuality, and desensitization to real-life interactions. It may also contribute to the development of sexual dysfunction. 

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Social addictions manifest in various forms and can have significant negative consequences on individuals' lives. Recognizing the signs and understanding the impact of social addictions is crucial in promoting healthier and more balanced behaviours. Effective intervention strategies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, support groups, and lifestyle changes, can help individuals regain control over their behaviours and improve their overall well-being.