Social Networks and Addiction – How Dangerous Are They Really?

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Students on their mobile phones, messaging friends via WhatsApp or Facebook, or using their laptops to surf the internet: This is typically what happens during lectures or seminars. Whether at uni, at work or privately our lives are becoming increasingly dominated by social networks. But when does this become dangerous?

WhatsApp messages are checked every ten minutes, Facebook every 20 minutes, and a day without social networks is completely unthinkable for a many people. Some even claim that social networks are more dangerous than alcohol. It has also been suggested that students let social networks distract them from life and studying. But is this really the case?

Internationale Soziale Netzwerke. Quelle: Pixabay.com

Soziale Netzwerke sind komplett in unser Leben integriert. Quelle: Pixabay.com

The first Smartphones hit the market in the mid-1990s; although they weren’t as state-of-the-art as they are today. Now you can do almost anything with a mobile phone. It is possible to access the internet using 1000 different apps and we have come to rely on this. But does this mean that we are losing touch with reality? One thing is for sure, social networks are no longer just a distraction; many people are becoming addicted to them. Young people in particular, such as students for example, can’t even imagine life without social networks. Although it is also important to remember that social networking does play an important role in our daily lives, especially for younger people. They offer the opportunity to send free photos via WhatsApp to friends and family members whilst on holiday or to let everyone know what’s going on in your life with a quick Facebook status update. Social platforms are also an important part of everyday university life. WhatsApp groups are created for uni presentations, or there are Facebook groups for specific courses. Social networks make communication easier; but where do the boundaries lie? There’s nothing objectionable about occasionally updating your Facebook status or chatting to friends via WhatsApp. The problem is that we sometimes let ourselves get too easily distracted and lose sight of the essential things in life such as uni or life in the real world. It is important to be able to recognize when you are spending too much time on the internet or on social networks. The symptoms listed below can help you to recognize whether you are in danger of becoming addicted or not, or whether it’s still just harmless fun.

8 Symptoms of Addiction

  • The compulsion to be online 24/7: Anyone who checks their WhatsApp or Facebook messages every couple of minutes should try leaving their phone alone for a few hours. If the need to be “online” gets more and more intense, this could be a sign that it is a problem. Incidentally, have you seen this interesting blog article about a personal experiment?.
  • Restlessness when “offline”: You start to feel restless and are unable to think about anything else if you can’t go online to visit social platforms for just a few hours.
  • Real contacts: Alarm bells should start ringing when you start to neglect your social contacts in the real world in favor social networks. Many students always have their phones in their hands, even when they are with their friends. A boundary has definitely been crossed if the virtual world takes priority over communication in the real world.
  • Sleep deprivation: If you lie in bed for hours using your phone instead of sleeping this endangers your natural sleep rhythms and makes you tired the next day. And then if you do manage to fall asleep, when you wake up the first thing you do is look at your phone. Does this sound like a healthy sleep and waking pattern to you?
  • No private sphere: If you feel the need to post every tiny detail of your life on Facebook. Love, breakups, pregnancy, illness: Sometimes very personal and private things are shared with the virtual world, even before “real” friends are told. Don’t forget: What you share on the internet will remain there forever.
  • No private sphere: If you feel the need to post every tiny detail of your life on Facebook. Love, breakups, pregnancy, illness: Sometimes very personal and private things are shared with the virtual world, even before “real” friends are told. Don’t forget: What you share on the internet will remain there forever.
  • Stalker: When you are too interested in the lives of your friends on Facebook and always want to know what’s going on. This makes it difficult to concentrate on your own life.
  • Escape: Escaping into the virtual world allows you to forget your problems, because everything is “better” on online social networks; this means you can avoid dealing with any issues in the real world.

    Studierende, die always-online sind. Quelle: Pixabay.de

    Studierende, die always-online sind. Quelle: Pixabay.de

If these symptoms sound familiar, it might be time to think about how much time you are spending on social networks. You can easily test yourself by abstaining from visiting any social networks for an entire day, or even a bit longer. No Facebook, no WhatsApp or Instagram – absolutely no social networks. Then anyone who thinks about Facebook or WhatsApp too often on their “offline” day will see for themselves that it might be a good idea to spend a bit more time in the real world. Although it is of course alright if you just want to upload a photo. Nowadays, social networks are not just for fun, they are also important at work and at uni. As long as other important aspects such as uni, work, and having a social life are not being neglected, it’s fine to have a bit of fun in the virtual world too.

Feven

Is currently in her fourth semester at University of Stuttgart. When she’s not at uni or working, she likes to travel, read and play sport. 

One thought on “Social Networks and Addiction – How Dangerous Are They Really?

  1. Regena says:

    What’s up, this weekend is good for me, as this occasion i am reading this wonderful educational post here at my house.

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