Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter are as addictive as alcohol and tobacco, local experts weigh in
SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — It’s official … Facebook and other social networking sites can be addicting.
At least according to researchers at the University of Chicago Business School. Their recent study of more than 200 adults showed sites like Facebook and Twitter can be more addictive than alcohol and tobacco.
“I don’t know what the exact aspects are of an addiction,” said John Garvey. “But I feel like this is part of our lives now. And so I don’t think there’s any going back.”
John Garvey, President of Garvey Communications in Springfield, is as much of an expert on social media as anyone in Western Massachusetts.
His business relies on social media to stay in touch and in step with the constant changes in the way we communicate.
“You go to Facebook because you’re getting something out of it,” said Garvey. Or you want to share and communicate. When you think about some of the benevolent aspects, they’re arguably benevolent.”
“Grandmothers that are posting are able to look at pictures of their new grandchildren and things like that. People are able to share information across state boundaries, across the country and across the world instantaneously. There’s a lot of positives there as well.”
The addiction study done by the University of Chicago saw people admit that next to sleep and sex, checking their social media pages is what they desire most.
That didn’t surprise Dr. George Abbott, a Ph. D., and clinical psychologist at Holyoke Hospital.
“There’s a natural tendency towards association, towards coming together, to joining with others,” said Dr. Abbott. “Also a natural inclination to put information together. So this builds on forces that are built into the human nervous system. We are social beings, and we collectively do things and we trade information with each other. This provides an immediate way to do it.”
“We’re a communicating, connected society now. And that’s going to increase, it’s not going to decrease. These technologies will become more ubiquitous, easier to use, and connected to our televisions in a much more profound way than it is now. It’s not going to go backwards.”
What social media has done is making everything immediate. Our families, our friends, and now even our jobs are with us 24/7 thanks to social media.
Experts call it workaholism. Balance is now more important than ever.
“Immediacy in itself can be addictive,” said Dr. Abbott. “So you put a message out that’s being read right away. Somebody responds to you right away. That provides an ever so slight kick. And then you put something back out, get something back in and so forth. Things to do, or if you do have a lot of other things to do when you’d rather not be doing them. This is a great distraction, and it’s just one that can get you out of balance.”
According to the numbers there are between 300 and 400-thousand people using Facebook here in the Pioneer Valley. And nationally those numbers jump to 117-million Americans logging onto Facebook every day.
We’ve known for years that smoking and drinking too much is bad for our health. And now it’s social media.
But thankfully the solution to your social media addiction is right there in the palm of you hand.