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Social Media Addiction Bares Similarities to Gambling & Drugs, Experts Warn


The addictive nature of gambling is widely known; it is a well-documented struggle for many and one that can ultimately have a drastic and disastrous effect on the livelihood and wellbeing of the sufferer. Gambling is not the only pastime that can progress into a damaging addiction however, with experts now frequently warning that if utilised incorrectly, social media can become a similar burden.

Now experts are warning that social media addiction bares more similarity to an ingrained dependency on gambling than previously known, with many prominent platforms in fact using the exact same methodology to keep their users hooked.

In a recent conversation with The Guardian, MIT anthropologist Natasha Schüll - author of the widely-acclaimed exploration into the psychology of gambling 'Addiction by Design', published in 2014 - said, “Facebook, Twitter and other companies use methods similar to the gambling industry to keep users on their sites. In the online economy, revenue is a function of continuous consumer attention – which is measured in clicks and time spent.”

“If you disengage, you get peppered with little messages or bonus offers to get your attention and pull you back in,” continued Schüll. “We have to start recognising the costs of time spent on social media. It’s not just a game – it affects us financially, physically and emotionally.”

Ms Schüll is far from the only individual to hold this sentiment. Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction and Director of Nottingham Trent University’s International Gaming Research Unit, compares the methodology to that employed by slot machines. He states, “The rewards are what psychologists refer to as variable reinforcement schedules and is the key to social media users repeatedly checking their screens. Social media sites are chock-a-block with unpredictable rewards. They are trying to grab users’ attentions ... to make social media users create a routine and habitually check their screens.”

Professor Daniel Kruger, an expert in human behaviour at the University of Michigan, offers a rather stark summary, “Phantom calls and notifications are linked to our psychological craving for such signals. These social media messages can activate the same brain mechanisms as cocaine and this is just one of the ways to identify those mechanisms because our minds are a physiological product of our brain.

“There are whole departments trying to design their systems to be as addictive as possible. They want you to be permanently online and by bombarding you with messages and stimuli try to redirect your attention back to their app or webpage.”



Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working as Editor of Social Songbird, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @Songbird_Sam

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Social Media Addiction Bares Similarities to Gambling & Drugs, Experts Warn Reviewed by Sam Bonson on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 Rating: 5
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