Addiction to social networks: the abuse of the virtual
In Psychology and mental health in general, the concept of addiction is very focused on chemical dependence on substances; In fact, in the main diagnostic manuals the only case of addiction to something other than a drug that is mentioned is that of gambling, the one in which you can not stop playing games of chance.
However, outside the scope of the clinical there are other conceptions about what is meant by "addiction", and these tend to change more quickly than more or less rigid categories that are reached through scientific consensus. This is especially noticeable in the field of new technologies, which is already beginning to talk about a relatively new phenomenon: the addiction to social networks . And it is that the generalization of the use of Internet has its advantages, but also its risks.
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What is addiction to social networks?
As the name suggests, addiction to social networks is a relationship of dependence that someone develops towards these virtual platforms of interaction with others, although in reality there is something more than this. People who are obsessed with social networks do not think all the time about the pleasure that the use of the social network makes them feel, but what is achieved through that platform.
That means that the use of these services does not generate a "peak of pleasure" , but what is gained is rather the fact of avoiding disappearing from the social map. Normally a reward is not sought, but it is about preventing the loss of events, not knowing about certain news, etc. It is something that recalls the phenomenon of FOMO syndrome (fear of missing out), with which this kind of addiction is related.
On the other hand, we must bear in mind that addiction to social networks is not simply the creation of a dependence on the use of computers. In fact, if something now characterizes Social networks are everywhere: tablets, smartphones, PCs and other conventional computers ... even in virtual networks that are accessed through video game consoles.
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The appearance of this problem on the Internet
One of the most negative aspects of addiction to social networks is that there are many people who can fall into it. The reason is that these tools they do not have the bad reputation of, for example, illegal drugs , and that the fact that others use them creates more reasons to join the phenomenon. Even for professional reasons, in many sectors it is advisable to open a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Secondly, as social networks have gone far beyond the computer, they can follow us everywhere from the tablet or smartphones, from which they can periodically invade our lives through vibrations and sounds. In Psychology, this can be understood as a learning process that leads to a single result: thinking all the time in terms of social networks, as these constantly remind us that they are there.
In the case of adolescents, their tendency to be impulsive and their need to have a wide and expansive social influence can cause them to fall quickly into this kind of tendencies. Facebook, for example, offers the added value of gathering all types of social interactions in one place: publishing photos and selfies, sharing links and multimedia content such as songs or humor videos with which one feels identified, publication of the existence or not of a sentimental relationship, etc.
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What kind of person falls into this obsession?
If a few years ago the stereotype of a person obsessed with new technologies was an adolescent male or young adult with a small number of friends who could not get rid of the computer, now addicts to social networks have a much more heterogeneous profile than They have added en masse to young women and adolescents with relatively good social skills.
Social networks are currently understood not as a limitation of relationships, but have become the public "showcase" by which you have to pass in an almost obligatory way to be relevant in a community of friends and acquaintances, be it big or small, or to get to harvest fame for places that will never be visited.
In this way, a profile on Facebook is much more than a means to maintain contact with acquaintances: it is the ecosystem in which everything relevant in social terms will occur. Not in vain, for example, has come to create a concept to refer to that a courtship does not really begin until it appears in a Facebook state: it talks about "Facebook official" relationships.