Tuesday February 25, 2020

Beware, Facebook or social media addiction can trigger cocaine-like high

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New Delhi: If the researchers from California State University-Fullerton are to be believed, then we’ve found yet another reason to stay away from Facebook and other social media. The research concluded the fact that excessive usage of social media can be as dangerous as an addiction to cocaine or gambling.

They say social media obsession may lead to something akin to classical addiction. Such use triggers two key parts of the brain associated with rewards: The amygdala which is the integrative place for emotions, behaviour and motivation and the striatum- part of the forebrain and a critical component of the reward system.

The findings, recently published in the journal Psychological Reports: Disability and Trauma showed that social media-related “addictions” share some neural features with substance and gambling addictions.

Since the meteoric rise of the internet usage and emergence of various social media platforms, many young Indians have been left socially isolated and lonely.

It’s time for a reality check in our backyard.

Take Krishnan (name changed), a 15-year-old social media addict in the capital, who recently visited Dr Sameer Malhotra, director, mental health and behavioural sciences at Max Healthcare.

Hooked on to Facebook for nearly 16 hours a day, he had developed an obsessive personality profile and was neglecting priorities of life, including education.

“I have been seeing many youngsters who are in the grip of social media addiction. In the case of Krishnan, I treated him with both counselling and medication which helped channelise his energy in positive work,” Dr Malhotra told reporters.

“Facebook addiction is similar to cocaine addiction to a certain level as there are certain neurochemicals like dopamine which operate across brain reward pathways and are responsible for maintaining addictive behaviour,” he said.

According to Dr Malhotra, teenagers with Facebook addiction-like symptoms may “have a hyperactive amygdala-striatal system, which makes this ‘addiction’ similar to many other addictions.”

For Dr Samir Parikh, director of the department of mental health and behavioural Science, Fortis Healthcare, excessive use of social media is a common trend today and such preoccupation leads to an interference in one’s social, occupational as well as other areas of functioning.

“Yes, it could be considered similar to drug addiction to a certain level though it is not exactly the same. The difference is more in terms of the physiological manifestations involved in the influence of a substance,” Dr Parikh told reporters.

Addiction is defined as repetitive habit pattern that increases the risk of diseases or associated personal and social problems. It is a subjective experience of “loss of control”.

Addiction connotes dependence because there are common neurochemical and neuroanatomical pathways found among all addictions- whether it is substance, gambling, sex, eating, internet use or Facebook obsession.

“They all display similar patterns of behaviour like the inability to abstain, impairment in behaviour control, craving, diminished recognition of significant behavioural problems, interpersonal issues and a dysfunctional emotional response,” says Dr Birendra Yadav, psychology clinical operations at telehealth venture- Poccare, Healthenablr.

Experts say Facebook addiction can lead to impulse-control disorders, especially among adolescents where it has led to high prevalence of depression, aggressive behaviour and psychiatric symptoms.

The social media has also been found to have affected lifestyles, resulting in irregular dietary habits, decreased physical activity, short duration of sleep and increased use of alcohol and tobacco.

Is it true that getting out of Facebook addiction is easier than that of substance abuse?

“This is subjective and depends on the context, personality and state of mind of the individual concerned and you need to build the willpower of the person through both counselling and medication,” Dr Malhotra says.

“Overcoming any kind of addiction is possible with adequate professional interventions,” Dr Parikh said.

The bottom line: use social media, but do not let it take over your life. Investing time in “real” relationships rather than in the cyber world can lead to improved mental health, say experts. (Nishant Arora, IANS)

Next Story

People Use Hate Speech While Searching About Terrorism on Social Media

People post hate speech while seeking answers on terrorism

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Social Media terrorism
People often resort to using hate speech when searching about terrorism on a community group social media platform. Pixabay

People often resort to using hate speech when searching about terrorism on a community group social media platform, say researchers.

According to Snehasish Banerjee, lecturer at the York Management School, University of York, it appears seems that people are really curious to know about terrorists, what terrorists think, their ideas, etc.

“While portrayed as a threat to society and human civilisation by mainstream media, terrorists sell terrorism as freedom fighting via social networking sites and private messaging platforms,” said Banerjee.

“However, the actual workings of terrorism are largely shrouded in secrecy. For the curious, a convenient avenue to turn to is the community question answering sites”.

Community question answering sites (CQAs) are social media platforms where users ask questions, answer those submitted by others, and have the option to evaluate responses. Previous studies have mainly looked at terrorism-related data drawn from Facebook and Twitter, this was the first to examine trends on the CQA site, Yahoo! Answers.

Social Media terrorism
While portrayed as a threat to society and human civilisation by mainstream media, terrorists sell terrorism as freedom fighting via social media platforms. Pixabay

The University of York study explored the use of Yahoo! Answers on the topic of terrorism and looked at a dataset of 300 questions that attracted more than 2,000 answers. The questions reflected the community’s information needs, ranging from the life of extremists to counter-terrorism policies. Sensitive questions outnumbered innocuous ones.

A typical innocuous question was: Who exactly created ISIS?, while a more sensitive question was: Do you agree with Donald Trump that we should ban Muslims coming from countries seized by ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorists? According to the findings, sensitive questions were significantly more likely to be submitted anonymously than innocuous ones.

While no significant difference arose with respect to answers, the paper found that identities were seldom recognisable. Using names non-traceable to themselves, the community group users become embolden to use provocative, inflammatory or uncivil language. “We found that answers were laden with negative emotions reflecting hate speech and Islamophobia, making claims that were rarely verifiable,” said Banerjee.

Also Read- Facebook and Twitter Remain Divided due to Bloomberg’s Video

Users who posted sensitive questions and answers generally tended to remain anonymous.

“This paper calls for governments and law enforcement agencies to collaborate with major social media companies, including CQAs, to develop a process for cross-platform blacklisting of users and content, as well as identifying those who are vulnerable,” the authors noted in the Aslib Journal of Information Management. (IANS)