The average American spends nearly 2½ hours per day on social media, and that number more than doubles for teens, studies have shown.
For many people, the reliance on social media can feel much like an addiction — and many experts believe that’s exactly what it is.
“Social media addiction is not yet recognized in our diagnostic manual — however, we have seen a growth in social media use, and research has begun to show some similarities with addiction, just not enough to define a diagnosis formally,” Lindsay Oberleitner, a clinical psychologist and education director at SimplePractice in Detroit, Michigan, told Fox News Digital.
SURGEON GENERAL’S ADVISORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH COMES AMID ‘REAL-TIME EXPERIMENT’
SimplePractice is an electronic health records solution that serves more than 178,000 solo and small-group practitioners.
Another commonly used term, “problematic social media use,” does not quite capture the depth of difficulties that individuals are experiencing with social media, Oberleitner said.
“‘Problematic’ can imply risky behaviors, such as illegal behavior on social media, rather than the personal pattern of detrimental use to which social media addiction refers.”
Lindsay Oberleitner is a clinical psychologist and education director at SimplePractice in Michigan. “Social media addiction is not yet recognized in our diagnostic manual — however, we have seen a growth in social media use, and research has begun to show some similarities with addiction,” she told Fox News Digital. (Lindsey Oberleitner/SimplePractice)
One Reddit user, l3moncardboard, recently shared an experience with social media dependency.
“I am insanely addicted to my phone. My screen time is disgusting and I’m ashamed — it’s upward of five hours per day … It creates the worst case of anxiety in my brain and makes me overthink,” the person also wrote.
TEENAGE BINGE-DRINKING: WHY IT’S SO DANGEROUS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO OVERINDULGE IN ALCOHOL
“My days are quite literally dictated by if certain people respond to the snap I’ve sent them or not. How can I manage this? It’s absolute insanity and I can’t stand it.”Warning signs of social media addiction
Some of the telltale signs of problematic social media use can mimic the symptoms of behavioral addictions and substance use disorders, but on a smaller scale, said Oberleitner.
One of the biggest red flags is when the excessive use of social media platforms interferes with other daily activities.
The average American spends nearly 2½ hours per day on social media, and that number more than doubles for teens, studies have shown. (iStock)
“The individual might begin to withdraw from in-person events, disengage while at social events or quit participating in activities they used to enjoy,” the doctor said.
“We might also see concerning levels of distress when they can’t use social media.”
TEENS AND SOCIAL MEDIA: AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION ISSUES GUIDANCE FOR SAFE USE AND ‘INSTRUCTION’
Someone who is addicted to social media will likely continue to use it despite the harmful effects, Oberleitner said.
“For example, the individual is aware that the time spent on social media interferes with school or work performance, but they do not decrease their time spent,” she said.
“I am insanely addicted to my phone. My screen time is disgusting and I’m ashamed.”
The person might attempt to reduce the time spent on social media — but is likely unsuccessful.
“We may also see that family and friends are upset by the individual’s use of social media, to the point that it causes strain on their relationships,” Oberleitner noted.
Excessive social media use can mimic substance addiction, one clinical psychologist told Fox News Digital. (iStock)
Excessive social media use can also cause impaired school and work performance, feelings of isolation and loneliness, negative self-image, sleep difficulties, disordered eating and increased symptoms of depression and anxiety, the doctor warned.
“Broadly, in addictive disorders, we see a pattern of a loss of control, compulsivity of use, negative consequences on personal and interpersonal functioning, and intense desires for use,” she added.The risk factors
While anyone can develop an unhealthy reliance on social media, it tends to be more prevalent among young people, Oberleitner said.
“Negative impacts from overuse are particularly problematic for youth,” she said. “Brain development continues into our 20s, and the frontal cortex, responsible for planning behavior, is the last area to develop fully.”
Someone who is addicted to social media will likely continue to use it despite the harmful effects, Oberleitner said. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Young people are also less likely to consider the risks of their harmful behaviors — making it harder to stop them, the doctor pointed out.
“Coping strategies, social skills and emotion regulation are all skills we learn and develop in childhood, adolescence and beyond,” she went on.
“Excessive social media use can interfere with the development of each of these areas.”
“Individuals who experience anxiety and loneliness are more prone to problematic social media use.”
As one teen user wrote on Reddit, “I’m quite young and want to enjoy my teenage years. My phone has caused me so much unnecessary negative emotions already, and I’ve just reached a point where it’s completely draining and dictates the way I go about daily life.”
TEEN GIRLS SPEND MORE TIME ON ‘SENSITIVE’ SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT THAT CAN HARM MENTAL HEALTH, REPORT SAYS
Individuals with high impulsivity are also more likely to display addictive social media behavior, said Oberleitner, as it is harder for them to stop engaging in unhealthy behaviors.
“It has also been observed that individuals who experience anxiety and loneliness are more prone to problematic social media use,” she added.Doctor’s tips for detoxing
When it comes to approaches to stopping the overuse of social media, one size does not fit all, said Oberleitner.
Many people use a combined approach, starting with a “full-stop period” when they don’t use social media at all — and then gradually restarting with moderation.
Some of the telltale signs of problematic social media use can mimic the symptoms of behavioral addictions and substance use disorders, but on a smaller scale, said Oberleitner. (iStock)
“The full-stop approach mimics abstinence-only approaches in substance use,” said Oberleitner. “It is unlikely to be feasible to never return to social media use, so the key is setting the time you want to step away.”
This might be a day, weekend, week or even a month, which gives the person a chance to “break the reinforcing cycle of social media use,” she said.
“A full stop can be as simple as hiding away computers and tablets, and removing phone apps that make social media access easy,” Oberleitner said.
SURGEON GENERAL RELEASES ADVISORY CALLING FOR IMPROVED SOCIAL CONNECTION
After the full-stop period, the person could resume use with “moderation or harm reduction approaches” in place, she said.
“Some examples could be setting a 30-minute time after dinner each day that you look at social media, or only engaging with it on the weekend for a limited time,” said Oberleitner.
“It might also include making plans to reengage with activities you have been missing out on because of social media use.”
One of the biggest red flags is when excessive use of social media platforms interferes with other daily activities, Oberleitner said. (iStock)
This approach is most likely to work when an individual has a network of individuals who will support attempts to cut back, the doctor said.
For some, it may be helpful to make accessing social media harder than usual.
This might mean removing phone apps, not saving passwords on browsers so extra steps are needed to sign in, and putting away tablets and computers.
ADDICTION COMPLICATES PAIN MANAGEMENT, BUT NEW GUIDELINES OFFER HELP FOR ‘COMPLEX PATIENTS’
“Reducing access can involve an active choice to set a time each day devoted to social media while simultaneously committing to not accessing social media at any time outside of that explicit time window,” Oberleitner said.
When treating people with addictions, she often helps them identify triggers for their behavior.
Even those who don’t consider themselves addicted to social media can benefit from reducing their usage and adopting healthier relationships with the technology, noted Oberleitner. (iStock)
“The closer the approximation of the trigger to the behavior we want to change, the harder it is to resist,” she said.
“So regarding social media use, it will be tough to change our behavior if we are sitting on the couch with our tablet next to us.”Real people share detox tips and tricks
One Reddit user, urcrain, offered this tip: “Determine what you are spending most of your time doing on social media. If it’s meme hunting and sharing, try eliminating that. Find alternative ways to get important areas of social media in a less addictive way.”
“Try to find things to do that can keep you entertained and busy during the times that you usually want to pick up your phone.”
ZenithArmageddon offered more tips: “Try to find things to do that can keep you entertained and busy during the times that you usually want to pick up your phone. Busy hands are great to keep the phone away.”
This person also suggested, ,”If you find yourself returning too much, then try to reduce the amount of stimulation you get from your social media. Avoid ‘for you’ recommendations such as the explore tab on Instagram, and mute the stories and posts on friends who you don’t really keep up with. It’s OK to still look at what your friends are doing, but try to catch yourself before you go down the ‘explore’ rabbit hole.”
“Reducing access can involve an active choice to set a time each day devoted to social media while simultaneously committing to not accessing social media at any time outside of that time window,” Oberleitner said. (iStock)
Another user, NavyRedRose, suggested more approaches: “Some phones can have you set screen time reminders and downtime. For example, I’ve added a 45-minute limitation per day to certain social media apps. Once I hit the limit, it’s no more of that app for the rest of the day.”
DEMENTIA PATIENTS WHO TAKE OPIOIDS FACE ‘WORRISOME’ DEATH RISK, NEW STUDY FINDS
This person also wrote, “I noticed that using my local library’s app and borrowing audiobooks has helped me put my phone down more as well. I can listen to an audio book or podcast as a distraction, but I can also do something else while I’m listening that keeps me present in my day-to-day life.”
Other suggestions included adopting a “digital Sabbath” one day per week, only using social media on alternating days, practicing mindfulness exercises, and focusing only on quality content instead of “mindlessly scrolling.”
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR HEALTH NEWSLETTER
Even those who don’t consider themselves addicted to social media can benefit from reducing their usage and adopting healthier relationships with the technology, noted Oberleitner.
The doctor also emphasized the “urgent need” for continued research and development in this area, as well as a greater integration of addiction-related assessment and treatment across health care. Weighing benefits and risks
Despite its risks, social media use is not all bad, Oberleitner said — after all, there was a reason for its rapid growth.
“Negative impacts from overuse are particularly problematic for youth,” said Oberleitner. (iStock)
“Social media can reduce stigma and isolation for individuals by finding networks of individuals with similar experiences and interests — connections that might not be possible within someone’s immediate community,” she told Fox News Digital.
It can also allow connection during isolation, such as illness, and enable connections through distance and time, she said.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“Suppose we can continue to support efforts to help people decipher helpful from non-helpful, and informed from misinformation, when viewing social media,” Oberleitner said.
“In that case, it can also be an excellent source of access to information.”
Melissa Rudy is health editor and a member of the lifestyle team at Fox News Digital.
Leaving Winnipeg for bigger musical centres has become a rite of passage for local acts seeking the next step in their careers.
Add indie-rock singer-songwriter Taylor Janzen to a list that goes back almost 60 years ago, to when a young Neil Young drove away in a repurposed hearse and bumped into Stephen Stills, another performer chasing a dream, in Thunder Bay, Ont., and began making rock history.
Janzen is heading to Nashville with her partner Ben and their border collie Lewis in September, and is marking the beginning of the new chapter with a farewell concert at the West End Cultural Centre Thursday.
“I felt like I needed to change my surroundings a little bit. As much as I deeply, deeply love Winnipeg, I feel like another Winnipeg winter is going to send me into oblivion,” she says with a chuckle.
“I feel like I have enough friends who have moved to the U.S. that I kind of knew what to expect in the process and how annoying it can be. I underestimated how difficult it is to find a place to live from afar, but it’s working out.”
Janzen, 24, got her start at the Stingray Young Performers Program at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, where she later graced the mainstage; she was featured at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, in 2019. After two EPs, she released the album I Live in Patterns on the Arts & Crafts label in February to critical success (Exclaim! magazine said, “her intensely vulnerable writing effortlessly cloud-bust(s) its way into massive pop hooks”).
She is looking forward to collaborating with other songwriters when she gets to Music City, once she gets moved in and becomes accustomed to a new city and country.
“I honestly feel, coming out with the record, I wanted to do something new in my life, and new surroundings often impact your art so heavily. I think if I wanted to move forward and make new art it was important for me to change my surroundings a bit.
“I’ve spent a lot of time there and I enjoy it,” she says of the city known as a songwriting hub. “Out of all the major cities you can build a music career in, that’s the one that feels the most comfortable to me.”
Janzen didn’t tour to promote I Live in Patterns, so she is looking forward to sharing live performances of emotional songs such as the heavy beat of Fingers Crossed, or Designated Driver, which explores trust and relationships.
JayWood, who made the Polaris Prize long list earlier this summer, is also on Thursday’s bill, along with Boniface, who will back Janzen during her set. She’s become friends with Boniface’s Michelle II Visser and is excited about the onstage alliance.
“Michelle has been one of my best friends for a while and I’m just excited to have some of my friends there, some of them on the stage, some of them off, and see everybody, play music,” Janzen says.
Janzen has a visa that allows her to perform in the U.S. for the next three years, but she’s taking the move to Nashville one year at a time. While she’s struggled with finding the right place to live, she’s been able to sell or give away things she didn’t want to take with her.<img src="https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2023/08/1656649_web1_4.jpeg?w=1000" alt="
Lindsay Blane photo
Janzen got her start at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.“>
Lindsay Blane photo
Janzen got her start at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
One thing definitely packed and ready to go is her record collection, which began in her teens with a CD by American rock band Paramore and has expanded along with the vinyl renaissance over the past two decades
“I’m intense about bringing them. I have about 250 of them and we’ve got to bring them all,” she says.
Janzen maintains it’s the emotions from playing her songs — she sheds a tear on I Live in Patterns’ album cover — that will be on display, rather than any fond or sorrowful farewells.
“I feel I’m getting ready for the emotional goodbyes from my friends and family, but that’s going to be more intense when I’m actually talking to them versus when I’m singing in front of them,” she says.
Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.
Read full biography
Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic illness in which you can’t stop or control your drinking even though it’s hurting your social life, your job, or your health.
Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the number of symptoms you have. Check which statements are true below.
It’s a range that includes alcohol abuse, which is when drinking has serious consequences again and again. It also includes alcohol dependence or alcoholism, which is when you’ve lost control of your drinking.
How much alcohol is too much?
If you’re going to drink, experts recommend doing it in moderation. This means no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman and no more than two if you’re a man. One drink equals:1.5 ounces of liquor (like whisky, rum, or tequila)5 ounces of wine12 ounces of beer
Another way to look at your drinking habits is to think about how much you have during an average week. For women, “heavy” or “at risk” drinking means more than seven drinks per week or more than three in any day. For men, it’s more than 14 drinks in a week or more than four in a day.
An estimated 16 million people — adults and adolescents — in the U.S. have alcohol use disorder.
The signs of AUD can include:An uncontrollable urge to drink or craving alcoholLack of control over how much you drinkNegative thoughts when you’re not drinking alcoholDrinking in risky situationsDrinking that interferes with things you enjoyContinuing to drink even though it causes problems or makes them worseStopping important activities or doing them less often because of alcohol
Learn more about AUD symptoms.
There are mild, moderate, and severe forms of AUD, which depend on how many symptoms you have. You may have AUD if one or more of these statements is true:You can’t relax or fall asleep without drinking.You need a drink in the morning to get going.To be social, you have to drink.Alcohol serves as your escape from feelings.After drinking, you drive.You mix alcohol and medications.You drink when you’re pregnant or caring for small children.When loved ones ask how much you drink, you don’t tell the truth.You hurt people or become angry when you drink.It’s tough for you to remember what you did when you were drinking.Your responsibilities suffer because of your drinking.Drinking has caused you legal problems.You tried to stop drinking but failed.You can’t stop thinking about drinking.To feel the effects of alcohol, you have to drink more and more.You have withdrawal symptoms after you stop drinking for too long, like shakiness, nausea, trouble sleeping, or seizures.
Different things can cause alcohol use disorder or make it more likely in different people. These include:ImpulsivenessLow self-esteemA need for approvalTrying to cope with emotional problemsPeer pressureEasy access to alcoholLow socioeconomic statusPhysical or sexual abuseA family history of alcohol problemsRegular binge drinkingDrinking at an early ageBariatric surgery
Your doctor may ask about your drinking habits and want to talk with your family and friends. They might also do a physical exam and order lab tests to learn whether alcohol use is affecting your health.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders says someone has alcohol use disorder if they meet two or more of 11 criteria in one 12-month period. AUD may be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how many of the criteria are true.
The criteria are:Alcohol use in larger amounts or for a longer time than intendedA lasting desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control alcohol useA lot of time spent getting alcohol, drinking it, or recovering from its effectsA craving for alcoholAlcohol use that causes a failure to meet obligations at work, school, or homeAlcohol use that continues even though it leads to lasting or repeated personal problemsGiving up or cutting back on important activities because of alcoholRepeatedly using alcohol in dangerous situationsUsing alcohol even though you know it causes physical or psychological problems, or makes them worseAlcohol tolerance, when you need more to have the same effectAlcohol withdrawal
Learn more about whether you might have alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol use disorder can start out as just alcohol use. It can go through stages, including: At risk: You may have drinks when you’re out with friends or have a drink to lower your stress. At this point, your body starts to tolerate alcohol.Early AUD: You may start drinking alone or in secret, and you’re thinking about alcohol a lot. You may have blackouts from drinking. Mid-stage AUD: You can’t control your drinking. It’s causing problems with your work, finances, family, and physical and mental health.End-stage AUD: Almost all you think about is drinking and you don’t care about food, family, friends, health, or happiness. Your have serious organ damage and are in danger of dying from this condition.
Depending on your case, you can get one or more types of treatment for alcohol use disorder. The main goal is to avoid alcohol and find a better quality of life.
You may experience alcohol withdrawal if you stop drinking suddenly. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:AnxietyTremors or shakesInsomniaNausea and vomitingHeart palpitationsHigher blood pressure or heart rateSweatingFast, unnatural breathingHallucinationsSeizures
Get medical attention if you have these symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal can usually be treated outside of the hospital, but some severe cases do require hospitalization.
Counseling and support
Therapy, whether alone or as part of a group, can help you understand your disorder and what may have caused it. You’ll get assistance staying away from alcohol and sticking with your treatment plan. The support of your loved ones is important, so they might need or want to be involved too.
If you have moderate or severe AUD, your doctor may prescribe one or more of these medications:
People who have serious AUD may need to live in a treatment facility staffed by medical professionals who have experience treating the disorder. Most programs involve therapy, support groups, education, and other activities.
Learn more about alcohol use disorder treatments.
A U.S. government survey says 29.5 million people aged 12 and older had AUD in 2021. Of those: 18.7 million are White.5.1 million are Latino.3.5 million are Black.Almost a million are Asian.424,000 are American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.
Not everyone gets the same access to screenings for alcohol use. A study involving almost 1,000 people found that Black and Latino people and other ethnic groups were less likely than White people to get “quality” alcohol screenings. These screenings are when health care professionals ask people not only if they drink, but also how much they drink. That’s important in finding out whether someone is a heavy drinker, so they can get the right treatment. The study found other things also affected whether people got quality alcohol screenings. Black, Latino, and other ethnic groups who had a high school education or less and who were on Medicare or Medicaid were also less likely to get the more detailed screenings. This means people in these groups could be missing out on key preventive care and treatment.
Even if your case of AUD is mild, it can have a serious effect on your physical and mental health. Often, AUD causes other problems that you try to avoid by drinking. That creates a negative cycle.
In the short term, AUD can cause:
Long-term effects and complications may include:
You’re also more likely to take dangerous risks. That raises your chances of being injured or dying from:Car accidentsHomicideSuicideDrowning
AUD affects people around you, too. Your drinking may damage relationships with loved ones because of anger problems, violence, neglect, and abuse. Pregnant women risk having a miscarriage. Their babies are more likely to have fetal alcohol syndrome and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Depending on the stage of your AUD, it might feel overwhelming. But treatment can help. You can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hotline 24 hours a day at 800-662-HELP (4357). Alcoholics Anonymous also has offices in most areas. Other organizations have support groups and recovery programs for you or someone you love. Your doctor can help you find one.
There are things you can do to help yourself in addition to your treatment (you shouldn’t do these things instead of your treatment):Meditation can help focus your mind and make you calmer and less stressed.Yoga may also help you relax and deal with stress.Change the way you socialize. Let your friends and family know you’re not drinking, and get a group of friends who support you in that decision.Do things that don’t include alcohol. If drinking was tied to your activities, get new hobbies.Change to healthier habits. Exercise, lowering your stress, getting good sleep, and eating nutritious foods can put you on a good path for AUD recovery.
Recovery from AUD is possible. It can be a challenge for many people. Setbacks are common. Getting help as early as possible can keep you from drinking again. Your doctor might suggest talk therapy to help you learn how to deal with triggers that might cause you to want to drink. And some medications can help when situations come up that may put you at risk for drinking again, such as the death of a family member, the loss of a job, or divorce.