Help, WebMD! I Think I’ve Contracted Social Media Syndrome

You might have wondered this already.

Is too much social media actually damaging your health?

How do you know when enough is enough?

And when you get to the point where you’ve gone too far, is there any way to stop the social media spiral?

Let’s explore the issue, WebMD style.

You might feel a little like that googly-eyed fella after spending too much time on social media one day.

The Social Media Syndrome Overview

In its perfect form, social media allows us to connect with people we would never have been able to communicate with a hundred years ago. It lets us make friends or business contacts with people all over the world.

But in its current form, could it be ruining our health?

Medical News Today has some social media stats that begin to shed a light on this potential problem.

  • 42% of adults use more than one social media platform.
  • The average American spend 7.6 hours a month on social media.
  • 40% of Americans log on to social media more than once a day.
  • Over 25% of respondents to a UK survey said social media has negatively affected them.
  • 2/3 of respondents had trouble sleeping after using social media.
  • 55% said they felt uncomfortable and worried when they couldn’t check their social media.

Those are some pretty serious numbers. And to add to it, a Contently infographic points out a University of Michigan study showing that people feel sadder when they get off Facebook, and eventually they start to feel unhappier about life in general.

All these problems are only likely to get worse as more and more social media platforms hit the market. Between This. and that, it feels like we are adding more and more to our social media marketing mixes every day.

Symptoms of SMS

So let’s say that social media can ruin people’s mental, and perhaps even physical, health. How do you recognize the problem in yourself?

Symptoms of Social Media Syndrome (SMS) (my name for this problem and not a medical term) have been reported to include:

  • FOMO (the fear of missing out)
  • Difficulty relaxing and sleeping, often occurring after bouts of social media use
  • Increasing unhappiness and dissatisfaction with your life
  • The inability to stop going on social media
  • Lack of productivity
  • The inability to type or write in complete sentences
  • Information-Overload (brain burnout)
  • The inability to be alone
  • The use of shortened words that are already really short (e.g., bae for baby)

SMS is characterized by the need to be a part of things even when you are not actually a part of those things.

As far as FOMO goes, I think of it as the baby factor. Have you ever noticed that babies don’t like to fall asleep in crowds? You can tell they are tired. Their heads are nodding and their eyes are closing and they are crying their heads off. Yet they often don’t want to fall asleep.

This is because there is too much going on around them, and they don’t want to miss a thing. FOMO causes the same problem in over-stimulated adults.

SMS is related to Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) (a term not made up by me), which has symptoms similar to chemical dependency. According to the Contently infographic, this disorder affects over 8% of the population.

Diagnosis and Testing for SMS

When social media starts to affect your health, you should be able to tell by asking yourself the following questions and giving yourself an honest answer.

  • Could I go a day without logging on to any social media account?
  • Do I communicate through social media more than I do through face to face communication?
  • Has social media use ever interfered with my work performance?
  • Do I ever feel stressed-out or restless after using social media?

Do you recognize any of this in yourself?

Other ways to diagnose and test for this problem is to ask around.

  • Have friends, family, or co-workers noticed any odd or worrisome behavior from you?
  • Do they ever contact you through social media because they know that is the best place to reach you?
  • Have they ever felt like you were more into your phone/tablet/computer than them?

If you find that you don’t even have to ask the people that know you if they think you have a problem, they just tell you, then you really know it has gotten bad.

Treatments and Cures

Once you have been diagnosed, you need to find a way to fix the problem. The most obvious option to do this is to cut back on your social media use. Take some time to just be by yourself or talk to people IRL (in real life).

Things you can do to pass the time:

  • Read a book.
  • Go outside and take a walk.
  • Work on your novel.
  • Build a house.
  • Volunteer for your favorite charity.
  • Get some work done.
  • Clean your house.
  • Pick up a hobby.
  • Sing a song.

I could keep this list going for a long time. The important thing here is not what you do, though. Do whatever it is you’d like. The point here is to do whatever it is you like to do without needing social media to do it.

Try going longer and longer periods without using social media. When you have broken the need to be on social media, take steps to keep yourself from a recurrence. You can do this by learning the difference between healthy social media use and unhealthy use.

Home Remedies

Social media has so many good features.

  • It makes you feel powerful and important.
  • It helps you make friends.
  • It lets you sell your product to people all over the world.
  • It connects you to networks.

But if it is ruining your health, maybe you need some social media-cation. Quitting altogether does not have to be the solution. But cutting back to healthier doses just might be what you need.

If you are looking for a cure to your SMS, then try this for a natural remedy: take a look at our social media services. You rest your mind, and we can keep your accounts running.