These days we are surrounded by screens, beeps, clicks, likes and follows. The allure of smartphones and tablets is irresistible to anyone who wants to stay on top of the latest news, trends and gossip. It's no surprise, then, that many people become addicted to the rush.
New research from UK anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label has revealed the scope of the problem may be greater than previously known, showing that 60% of more than 10,000 young people surveyed claimed they would be unable to go 24 hours without using social media.
The study, which analysed the responses of people between the ages of 12-20 between 1 November 2016 and 28 February 2017, suggested the levels of addiction had led some to have a heightened sense of personal dissatisfaction and a permanent "fear of missing out".
"Social media addiction is highlighted as a key trend, with the majority of respondents unable to switch off for a sustained period of time," commented Liam Hackett, founder of the charity. The study found that a nearly one in three people used social media "constantly".
Ditch the Label highlighted a number of key trends that may indicate you have a social media addiction problem, however it should be noted this is yet not scientifically backed. Numerous studies into the addiction issue remain ongoing in universities across the world.
How to tell if you're addicted to social media:
• Constantly checking whether a comment has been retweeted/liked/commented on
• You start to #Hashtag #About #Everything #Under #The #Sun
• You believe life is more about what's happening on social media than in reality
• You feel upset when nobody comments on your updates on Facebook
• You take down a post if it hasn't reached a certain amount of 'likes' or reactions
• You're obsessing over images of yourself to post online
• You can't poop without your phone
• You find yourself refreshing Facebook/Twitter/Instagram every few minutes
• You're constantly comparing yourself to others online
• You care too much about increasing your Instagram following
• You judge other people by their social profiles
• The first thing you do in the morning is check Facebook
If you answered yes to all of the above, the charity has warned that you may soon experience a number of negative side effects. Social media addiction, it claimed, can result in the development of an unhealthy body image, increased feelings of loneliness, lack of sleep and anxiety.
"More than a quarter of participants use social media 'constantly' and another 16% access it 'several times an hour'," commented professor Sheri Bauman, an academic adviser to Ditch the Label who specialises in scientific research into both traditional and online bullying.
"That means that about 43% of youth are engaged with social media often enough that we might worry that their use has become addictive or at least compulsive," Bauman continued. "The 39% who think they could ignore social media for longer than that may be like other addicts, convincing themselves that they don't have a problem."
You can see the full 'Annual Bullying Study 2017' research paper here.
If you are concerned about social media addiction you can reach out to Ditch the Label for more information. The NSPCC also has a dedicated phone helpline for parents who need help or advise with internet-based problems. Its phone number is: 0808 8005002.