12/01/2022 Non-profit - Volunteer
How constantly do you reach for the phone, every 5 minutes, first thing in the morning and check your notifications? How often are you latched in an internet argument? How long do you scroll memes on the Media? How frequently when you’re on vacation, are you more concerned about taking the flawless Instagram picture than enjoying yourself? How much do you get worried looking from watching your feed?
Most people won’t admit how much social media means, or has meant, to them. Social media IS and WILL a huge part of our life. For the youth, Social Media is everything, their life! Social Media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter help us stay interconnected with loved ones, catch up on news, and discover both beautiful destinations and inspiring people. Yet you may find yourself spending hours on end scrolling through various feeds can leave you feeling anxious, drained, uneasy or dissatisfied.
There’s a scientific explanation behind unhealthy social media habits. The time we spend online affects the dopamine system (happy hormone) in our brains. This is the reward system that is stimulated when you check a new message or hear a notification sound that signals an update on your phone. These unexpected stimuli give you short-term pleasure, keeping you hooked and wanting to check back to see what’s new throughout the day.
When someone posts a picture, video or reel they may receive positive social feedback or is hoping for positive feedback or reaction, which stimulates the brain to release dopamine, rewarding that behaviour and perpetuating the social media habit.
As per the NCBI report, psychiatric morbidity has been connected with internet addiction. It includes mood disorders, anxiety disorders, depressions, substance use disorders, psychotic disorders, impulse control disorders and distress. Of adolescents, 4.5% were found to be at risk of problematic social media use. Social media addiction was associated with low self-esteem, poor life satisfaction, sleep disturbances. Facebook addiction was associated with loneliness, social impairment in addition to depression, anxiety, insomnia, somatic symptoms.
A recent study found an association between social media use and poor academic performance in medical students. For extreme social media use to qualify as a ‘use disorder’ requires observation of the set of signs and symptoms consistent with all addictive demeanours. Tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, salience, and relapse have been explored in individuals using validated questionnaires such as Young’s Internet Addiction Test (IAT) and the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS). Of all the symptoms normally associated with dependence, withdrawal following the interruption of social media use was the most prominent.
By restricting or detoxing yourself from the effects of social media, you may find yourself with a clearer mind and restored energy to tackle what matters most to you. While it may be hard, it will be a rewarding experience that will help you better understand your relationship with your devices and be more present and mindful in your other activities and experiences.
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