The brain of someone addicted to social media looks very much like the brain of someone addicted to heroin.
Addiction of any kind – whether it be gambling, drugs, social media or something else – unquestionably leads to devastating effects. When it comes to social media addiction, a major effect we see is falling prey to online scams.
While no one factor can predict if someone will develop an addiction to social media, we do know that an unhealthy reliance on social media can cause isolation, which causes vulnerability, which can make you prey. Here’s how:
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
It seems virtually everyone is on Facebook. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, everyone you know is sharing news, personal stories and pictures. Step away from your Timeline for a day and suddenly it feels like you missed on a lot. Like, too much. You can’t stand being the odd one out, so you open that app again – for the twentieth time today.
The fear of missing out can lead one to loneliness. Loneliness, in turn, has a way of making us vulnerable. And when we’re vulnerable, we become much more trusting – especially when we shouldn’t be.
Surely by now you’ve heard the story of the con man who used online dating sites to defraud lonely singles looking for love and companionship. Well, the facts don’t lie: Feeling lonely puts you at higher risk for becoming a victim of online fraud.
A Better World Than The Real One?
Did you know that game designers create addictive games on purpose?
Many game companies release different versions of a game to test and compare how engaged players are. This insight is referred to as “time on device,” which is the same term the gambling world uses to analyze how long someone sits at a slot machine.
One straight-A college student found himself addicted to the popular game, World of Warcraft because, as he described, “was quite lonely and he found that there were a lot of other like-minded people on the game.”
After a 45-day gaming binge that included gaining 40 pounds, losing hair and ignoring calls, his mother collected him and placed him in an Internet addiction treatment center.
New Era, New Addiction
Remember the days when nearly everyone smoked cigarettes? Surely, some still do. But the number of smokers has decreased significantly due to revelations about how harmful smoking cigarettes is. Social media can be looked at in the same way. It might not be so obvious at first, but one must look at the growing number of online scams and our growing consumption of social media. At some point, it’s possible that an overwhelming portion of the population will realize that using social media comes with the risk of developing an addiction.
Social media addiction, like all addictions, places one on potentially devastating path. For social media addicts, one of those major risks is falling prey to online scams.