America's latest addiction: Social media sites

1:28 PM, Feb 17, 2012   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

A new study, done by the University Chicago suggests that social media is more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol.

The study got people talking, where else, but on Facebook. An overwhelming number of people say, yes, they believe they are addicted to social media but were unsure about the comparison to addiction involving cigarettes or alcohol. 

"Maybe so but it is cheaper than a carton of cigarettes or a bottle of wine," Facebook friend Deanna Ames said. 

Paul Sheridan Worley wrote, "No, I can stop anytime I want!" 

Joan Stanko Griffith said "Hey, at least this habit won't kill you."

"When we talk about addiction, we are talking about a few things. We're talking about compulsiveness, loss of control and continued participation despite harmful consequences... Where the concern comes in is, 'Is this interrupting your day-to-day activities? Is it destroying relationships?'" Professor of Psychology at Metropolitan State College of Denver, Dr. Travis Heath said.

Recent statistics prove that more people are signing up for social media. It does not mean however, that they are addicted to using it. 

"E-marketer just came out with a report that says by 2014, 90 million U.S. users will be on tablets. Right now, 40 percent of users are already connecting to the Internet and apps via mobile [devices,]" 9NEWS Digital Content Manager Misty Montano said.

Dr. Heath says there are several questions one needs to ask themselves to determine if they are going overboard on social media. 

"Is it impacting your ability to function at work? Is your productivity dropping? Addictions [to social media] aren't going to kill you, and [social media] certainly has its advantages, but the disadvantages are very real." Heath said.

Social media has recently been to blame for some relationship disasters and separations. 

"Are you Tweeting while at dinner with a significant other, and now that relationship is ending? I mean that is a bad sign." Heath said.

Convenience may be blame for some social-media addictions because it is available nearly everywhere. 

"My biggest concern is, is it our primary means of communication? We're social beings, and this can be a way to enhance that; however, if it's cutting off actual contact instead of enhancing it, I think we are on a slippery slope." Heath said.

Sites like Facebook and Twitter are also commonly used as a way to get their voice out and to have an opinion that can be heard, or in this case, read. 

"It's all about the interaction. You can choose your communities; people of like-mindedness so people are actually able to speak to and to speak with. More than that, it's also a new platform, an audience that you can share ideas with learn new things." Montano said.

At 9NEWS we always encourage people to log onto our Facebook page and sound off on topics that are in the news. WARNING: Don't get addicted! 

"In moderation, it's just fine. It's nothing to be too concerned about unless it's interrupting your life in a major way," Heath said.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

Most Watched Videos