History of the social media creation started in 1997, based on the idea about that the people were separated between each other by the 6 degrees of the separation was made the first SNS SixDegrees. In 2004 social media SNS Facebook had a start and till 2016 it had 2,6 billion users all around the world. In 2015 people began spending in SNS on average from 1,5 to 3,7 hours per day. Since then, taking into account that the quantity of the social medias had grown and every user as in a rule is registered not in the one but in the few SNS, the time spent in the SNS also had grown. Certainly, SNS is a good instrument for the new acquaintances and restoring old ties, facilitating and speeding up communication, exchange of experience and useful information between people, for business and public organizations.
But in addition to the obvious benefits for cognition and communication, SNS has become a powerful factor in addiction and, as a result, serious emotional problems and even mental disorders: depression, anxiety disorders, emotional stress, sleep disorders, etc. (Bányai et al., 2017; Koc & Gulyagci, 2013; Shensa et al.., 2017; van Rooij, Ferguson, van de Mheen, & Schoenmakers, 2017Eraslan-Capan, 2015; Hong, Huang, Lin & Chiu, 2014; Malik & Khan, 2015; Marino et al., 2017; Pantic, 2014; Shakya & Christakis, 2017; Toker & Baturay, 2016). Thus, symptoms of depression were found in schoolchildren who spend a lot of time on social medias in Serbia (Pantic et al., 2012) and among the young people of the US (Lin et al., 2016).
The negative consequences of dependence on SNS can include difficulties with focusing attention, especially for a long time, distraction, dispertion; decrease in cognitive abilities: memory, intelligence: the ability to abstract logical thinking, critical analysis and generalization of information. It was replaced by superficial “clip” thinking without deep analysis and understanding of the essence of the perceived content.
Even the term “network dementia”has appeared.
Studies have been conducted that indicate the negative impact of dependence on social networks on the performance of schoolchildren and students. (Huang, 2014; Al-Menayes, 2014, 2015; Junco, 2012; Karpinski, Kirschner, Ozer, Mellott, & Ochwo, 2013; Kirschner & Karpinski, 2010; Nida, 2018; Y. Hou еt al, 2019).
For example, a study on a large sample of US students (N = 1893) showed that the time spent by students on Facebook had a negative impact on their overall average success rate, meaning that the more time students spent on the social network, the lower their average score was (Junco, 2012). Wood and others (2012) found that using messengers for text messaging, email, and Facebook negatively affects academic performance in real time. Jiang, Hu, and Wang (2016) found that using Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, negatively affected the perception of information.
Hours of sitting in SNS had a negative impact on the quality of relationships in the family, with friends and colleagues in the real world. As well as on productivity in work and study. It’s amazing how something that was supposed to connect and improve communication between people became a powerful factor of separation and alienation.
There is evidence that social media addiction affects approximately 12% users of social media sites (Alabi, 2012; Wolniczak идр., 2013; Wu, Cheung, Ku, & Hung, 2013). But in General, the prevalence of social media addiction is poorly researched, largely due to the lack of common assessment criteria and large-scale systematic research.
Excessive involvement in social medias is manifested:
- strong compulsive desire to log in;
- loss of control over the time spent in the network (many hours in the network, sometimes all over the night);
- constant reflections on events in the network: memories, fantasies, and plans for actions in the network;
- stay in the network despite the negative consequences and postponed the important things;
- irritability, anxiety, a decrease in mood when it is impossible to enter the network, sometimes even dysphoria, aggression;
- relief, excitement, euphoria, or simply elation when returning to the network;
- high sensitivity, strong emotional reactions to comments, positive and negative evaluation, any feedback on the relationship to their actions in the network;
- self-doubt, dependence on the evaluation of other users;
- estrangement from family, friends, colleagues, preference for online communication to real relationships and other interests;
- obsessive need to keep track of events on the page, regardless of location: in transport, driving, at a lesson, lecture, at work;
- aggression: shouting, swearing, conflicts, when someone tries to distract from the social network;
- unsuccessful attempts to reduce the time spent online;
- lying and hiding the facts of visiting the network and how much time was spent on it in front of family and friends;
- fear of missing something important if not online. So called «Fear of Missing Out» ( FOMO) – this is a constant fear that others will have useful group experience, something important will happen, when only you will be absent. (Buglass, S.L. et al, 2017; Przybylski, A.K. et al, 2013; Gil, F, et al; 2016).
If you do not take severe clinical cases of addiction, the initial signs of excessive involvement or addiction to social media can be observed in most users. Periodically there is a strong desire to check who and how responded to your publication, to see posts and updates of friends. Discomfort and anxiety until you do. The habit of filling your free time (waiting, taking a break, or in transport) by flipping through a news feed or viewing messages in messenger chats without an actual need. The habit of looking into the network before going to bed, and also do it immediately after waking up, grabbing for gadgets. Spending more time in social networks than planned. Who doesn’t know that?
We need to understand that social media platforms are not something that some good, kind people have created for our comfort and entertainment. This is a multibillion-dollar business, well-thought-out information technology, which is controlled by complex self-learning algorithms taking into account 100 thousand factors in order to attract and hold your attention for as long as possible and manipulate the user’s consciousness as effectively as possible. These algorithms are constantly changing and updated, and the principle of their operation is not understood even by the creators themselves.
And, please note, we do not call for completely abandoning the use of SNS, but you need to understand what it is. This is a good tool, but you need to approach it very responsibly and consciously.
In the popular and even in the scientific literature you can meet such terms as gadget – addiction and internet – addiction. And addiction on excessive use of SNS is defined as a special case of Internet addiction. There is no addiction on gadgets. Gadgets are a means of implementation of some activity. It’s not gadgets that matter, but what you do with your smartphone, tablet, etc. Just as the term Internet – addiction doesn’t make any sense.
There is no addiction on the Internet. It is important over what behavior on the Internet a person has lost control. And what information technology is already controlling it because of this. What do you do there? Play? Sit in social media? There is a lot of deep, positive, scientific and informative information on the Internet. But for some reason, no one is dependent on this. On the contrary, working with this information requires a conscious effort, inner effort, perseverance, and discipline.
Observe what happens in your mind if you go online to watch a training video, for example, of a language. And even if it is very interesting and clearly taught course. Or when searching the information for an abstract or scientific article. On the interest topic and for the benefit of your own development and for other people. Is it difficult for us to get away from this and is it easy to start?
Dependence with an obsessive willingness and unwillingness to stop, occurs only to empty and unproductive pastime in the network such as games or rubbing news and gossip in social media, which simply eats up attention and time-the main life resources of a person. But it causes a lot of emotions and the illusion of unification, communion, acceptance and self-realization.
According to some estimates, the average user spends in social media 5 years of life. Imagine how many really important things you could do during this time, necessary, useful and good (and even partially with the help of the same social medias). With how many people could deeply communicate, sincerely, truly; how much love, care, understandings could give to family and friends. How much you could do for self-development, how many bright ideas to implement, how much to learn!
So who uses and manages whom? Do we go to social medias for the necessary information or share something really important and interesting, communicate and get to know those who are interesting to you, or do network algorithms exploit our attention and time, imposing empty and unnecessary things?
All networks are built on the principle of feedback and algorithms – information programs-make sense in them. They determine what you are interested in, whom to offer as friends, what publications and in what order to fill your news feed, with what emotions to infect, what desires to activate and impose needs. They make sure that publications are emotional, because they calculate that neutral content does not keep users on the platform for a long time and reduces their activity.
A recent joint study by Chinese and American scientists Hou Y. et al. (2019). Social media addiction: Its impact, mediation, and intervention. https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2019-1-4 students of a collage (N = 232) turned out that the dependence from the social media has a negative impact on the mental health and progress of the students, and that the connection between social media addiction and mental health is mediated by self-esteem. It is the desire to recognize your own importance and significance that keeps people on the platform beyond measure and makes them so dependent and vulnerable to network feedback. Plus, social networks provide a very fast response as a result. But the more a person spends time in social medias trying to make the desired impression, the further away they are from real actions, achievements and self-realization and from real sincere relationships.
Dependence on social medias is a pure gambling addiction, but instead of a game avatar, the user creates a network image. And this alternative image can be very different from what kind of person actually is. He quickly corresponds to what he has not yet realized in life, but he really wants to, but he is lazy, does not know how, or is afraid to make an effort. On this “seem but not to be” a person becomes dependent on the image of himself in the network. Play too long. First, this is an alternative “I”, that is, the false network” I ” becomes more important than the self-image that was formed outside the network and that the person is extremely dissatisfied with. This is perceived as dissatisfaction with yourself. Then there is a complete substitution of identity or self-perception, and this network “I” a person begins to consider himself. And the vividness, reality, and importance of this” I ” is supported by how other users respond to it. That’s why likes, comments, attention to publications, subscribers and their number are so important, and such sensitivity to feedback, especially to negative ratings and criticism, but the hardest part is still ignoring. Just like in life, only more immersion in the game of illusions.
In fact, neither one nor the other “self-image” is a person. Both of them are just creations of his mind. Only one is supported by the real society and feedback from them, and the second by the network society and feedback from there. His true higher self is the Observer who supports these thoughts about himself with attention and faith. And that how he does not like himself, and how he wants to be perceived by others. Having observed and realized how these images are formed through thoughts and emotional responses to them, having separated himself from this, he can really begin to deeply and truly transform himself, develop, learn and act – to be, not to seem. Starting as a springboard from the same dissatisfaction with yourself. Dissatisfaction is an echo of the inner knowledge of your own huge potential. This is an echo of the knowledge that you can do better, that your capabilities, abilities, that huge inner potential has not yet been revealed and realized. But in order to know yourself and show this potential, you need to act and really develop. And not to be sad and go into the illusion of network communication.
To illustrate why we can’t develop by creating and maintaining a network image, I’ll use this metaphor. Imagine that you have a photo of the sea that you want to visit. But in order to go on a journey to the sea, even if difficult and unknown, but interesting and full of new opportunities, you put this photo in front of a mirror with a magnifying glass and looking at this image has become much larger, you sit and imagine that you are already by the sea. And even if years pass, you will never get close to the real sea. And you just need to get up and go, inspired by the photo.