Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 02:40 pm

We’ve heard that social media can be addictive and now new research has found a common trait between drug addicts and social media users

Social media may help us stay in touch with loved ones, but it can become addictive, disturb our sleep, and has been linked to anxiety and depression.

Now new research has found a link between social media use and risky decision-making, a trait associated with drug addicts, alcoholics and pathological gamblers.

One-third of people use social media

“Around one-third of humans on the planet are using social media, and some of these people are displaying maladaptive, excessive use of these sites,” says Dar Meshi, lead author and assistant professor at Michigan State University (MSU). “Our findings will hopefully motivate the field to take social media overuse seriously.”

The study is the first to examine the relationship between social media use and risky decision-making capabilities.

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Failing to learn from mistakes

“Decision making is often compromised in individuals with substance use disorders. They sometimes fail to learn from their mistakes and continue down a path of negative outcomes. But no one previously looked at this behaviour as it relates to excessive social media users, so we investigated this possible parallel between excessive social media users and substance abusers,” says Meshi.

Meshi and his co-authors had 71 participants take a survey that measured their psychological dependence on Facebook, similar to addiction.

The researchers then had the participants do the Iowa Gambling Task, a common exercise used by psychologists to measure decision-making.

“While we didn’t test for the cause of poor decision-making, we tested for its correlation with problematic social media use,” says Meshi.

The worse people performed, the more excessive their social media use. The better they did in the task, the less their social media use.

How to relieve stress: Rethink social media

Social tik

People who abuse opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine (tik), among others – have similar outcomes on the Iowa Gambling Task to excessive social media users.

“With so many people around the world using social media, it’s critical for us to understand its use,” says Meshi “I believe that social media has tremendous benefits for individuals, but there’s also a dark side when people can’t pull themselves away. We need to better understand this drive so we can determine if excessive social media use should be considered an addiction.”

The side effects of smartphone addiction

Source: Michigan State University via

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