How did quitting social media affect you

Study compares excessive use of social media to drug addiction

Social media has taken the world by storm, making it so easy for people to stay connected.

Facebook alone had 1.49 billion daily active users on average in September 2018. Snapchat had 186 million active users as of the third quarter of 2018.

Instagram has more than 500 million daily active users worldwide.

However, there are drawbacks to using social media - issues range from privacy to mental health risks from spending too much time on social media.

Now, a new study has linked the excessive use of social media for risky decisions, which is often associated with substance abuse disorders.

"Around a third of the people on the planet use social media, and some of those people use these websites excessively." Dar Meshi, assistant professor of advertising and outreach at Michigan State University and lead author of the studies, said in a statement. "Hopefully our findings will motivate the field to take the overuse of social media seriously."

The research comes at a time when American users are spending more and more time on social media, and it is the first, according to the researchers, to examine the relationship between excessive social media use and risky decision-making behavior.

"Decision-making is often at risk in people with substance use disorders," Meshi said in a statement. “Sometimes they cannot learn from their mistakes and continue on their path of negative results. However, so far no one has looked into this behavior due to excessive social media users. Hence, we examined this possible parallel between excessive social media users and drug addicts. We did not test for the cause of bad decisions, but rather for the correlation with problematic use of social media. "

The study

The study, which was carried out at a large German university, involved 71 participants between the ages of 18 and 35 who were recruited through advertised flyers.

They all stated that they had no history of psychiatric disorders, including substance use or gambling disorders.

Participants were initially asked to take a survey aimed at measuring their psychological dependence on Facebook, similar to an addiction method. The researchers focused on Facebook because it was the most widely used social network platform at the time.

The survey asked respondents how they feel about Facebook, how they feel when they can't use it, when they tried to quit, and how it affected their work or studies.

They were then asked to run 100 tests of a computerized version of the Iowa Gambling Task to measure value-based decision making. These trials were divided into five blocks of 20 trials each.

Each participant received four decks of cards - A, B, C and D - on a screen for each attempt and had to select a card for which they received a certain amount of play money bonus.

Decks A and B were considered detrimental in that they generated large instant wins ($ 100) for each election but came with significant penalties. In contrast, decks C and D were beneficial, providing small instant wins ($ 50) and penalties for each choice compared to the other decks.

Participants knew beforehand that some decks were better than others and if they wanted to do well they should avoid the bad decks and choose cards from the good decks.

The participants knew even before the start that their goal was to make as much money and avoid wasting as much money as possible. You can choose cards from any deck and swap them at any time.

The researchers also rated the participants' degrees of depression.

The results

The researchers found a link between social media use and risky decisions.

They found that social media use was more excessive at the end of their gambling assignment when participants performed worse by picking poor decks. In contrast, social media usage was lower when they got better results on their gambling task.

This finding is similar to the findings of drug addicts at the Iowa Gambling Task, which the researchers believe show the same lack of decision-making.

They believe this study has important implications for society.

"With so many people around the world using social media, understanding how they are used is crucial for us," Meshi said in a statement. “I believe that social media has tremendous benefits for individuals, but there is also a downside when people can't tear themselves away. We need to better understand this drive so that we can decide whether excessive use of social media should be considered an addiction. "