Is social media addiction a disease? It’s a question being debated across the internet-using world – from politicians to public figures, school children to journalists, tech bosses to academics and doctors.With more than 3 billion people across the globe using social media every month (9 in 10 of those accessing social media via mobile devices), it’s vital to understand how addictive technology is and can yet become. We have never been more connected via social media and almost half the world’s population now regularly participate.
Similar to the older debate over alcohol addiction and drug addiction – both of which are now widely accepted and classified as a disease – our 21st-century use of social media is now under scrutiny for its effects on our health and wellbeing.
If your use of social media is causing you mental distress or physical harm, please get in touch with UKAT today. Addictive technology – including social media, gaming and online gambling – can have serious impacts on your health, relationships, work and education. Please get in touch to discuss residential or outpatient addiction treatment.
Who is Saying What about Addictive Technology?
MPs call for more regulation and research into social media addiction
In March 2019, a group of MPs said that social media addiction should potentially be classified as a disease. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing said Ofcom should regulate platforms including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Social media corporations should be required to conform to a code of conduct, to protect their users who are aged 24 and under.
The APPG report also found that 27% of children who spent three or more hours a day online show symptoms of mental illness. They called for urgent research into whether social media addiction should be given status as an illness.
Social media content linked to mental ill health and suicide
Graphic content on social media, including posts about self-harm, body image disorders, eating disorders and suicide, has also come under fire.
In January 2019, the father of 14-year-old Molly Russell said, “I have no doubt that Instagram helped kill my daughter.” Molly viewed material linked to self-harm and suicide on social media before taking her life, despite showing no obvious signs of serious mental health illness.
Instagram boss vows to address graphic social media content
Speaking in February 2019 to the Daily Telegraph, Chief Executive of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said: “We have not been as focused as we should have been on the effects of graphic imagery on anyone looking at content. That is something that we are looking to correct and correct quickly. It’s unfortunate it took the last few weeks for us to realise that. It’s now our responsibility to address that issue as quickly as we can.”
Prince Harry talks about the dangers of addictive technology
In April 2019, Prince Harry spoke out about social media addiction. “Social media is more addictive than drugs and alcohol, and it’s more dangerous because it’s normalised and there are no restrictions to it,” he said.
Others question social media addiction
Many others doubt whether social media addiction really exists. They ask whether it is right to pathologise people’s use of social media. Isn’t excessive social media use just a behaviour associated with established health conditions – such as anxiety, depression or an eating disorder? With 3 billion users worldwide, is our fascination with social just the latest phase of the technological revolution?
Social Media Addiction Treatment – Break Free from Addictive Technology
At UKAT, we are seeing a year-on-year rise in the number of people who need treatment for internet addiction – including harmful use of social media, online gaming and gambling via apps and websites.
Our addiction treatment programmes can help you to understand and overcome your addictive processes, so you can recover and reclaim your life.
The UKAT Admissions team are available now to take your call or answer your message.