The newsLINK Group - Social Media

Editorial Library Category: Medical Topics: Social Media Title: Social Media Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: People are inherently social by nature. The most basic human relationship, the kind you have with infants, involves simple touch. Take that skin-to-skin stimulus away long enough, and you have the reason why infant mortality rates in some orphanages used to run as high as 30 to 40 percent, where those babies who survived sometimes then became afraid of contact and failed to connect and bond with others. Editorial: Social Media 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 People are inherently social by nature. The most basic human relationship, the kind you have with infants, involves simple touch. Take that skin-to-skin stimulus away long enough, and you have the reason why infant mortality rates in some orphanages used to run as high as 30 to 40 percent, where those babies who survived sometimes then became afraid of contact and failed to connect and bond with others. Being held and snuggled as a baby, therefore, is not just something that is highly enjoyable for the baby and the person doing the holding and snuggling, it is also an essential part of learning how to form relationships with others. Getting older does not change this need; it just changes how most of us express it. For example, the Salt Lake Tribune ran a fascinating article on August 12, 2015 by Amy McDonald about nonsexual cuddling in Utah and the popularity of cuddle parties where people can go and fill their need for being touched. Sometimes that need for human contact is also expressed through social media. According to Matthew Lieberman, a Harvard graduate who is now a lead researcher on the subject and a professor of psychology, psychiatry, and biobehavioral studies at UCLA, the brain network being used when checking social media is the same one used when we are taking a break. When we are not working, in other words, our brains wiring leads us to seek out other people. Just looking at pictures of other people causes a great deal of activity in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. Activity in this part of the brain increases your ability to accurately perceive others and quickly decide which emotions they might be feeling. Exactly how much faster are you under these circumstances? It turns out that the answer is ten percent, and having that ten-percent speed advantage is an advantage for anyone who is trying to prepare for, and control, social life. As Matthew Lieberman puts it, our brains are always trying to reset themselves to think about other minds. Looking at social media, apparently, actually helps with that process. What about the very real fear many people (especially parents) have about social media addition? Experts say it’s not that simple. If someone spends a lot of time on social media, that certainly can be categorized as social-media overuse, but throwing in the “addiction” term is more a way to escalate the argument than it is an accurate representation of what is going on. Addiction has a technical definition and is a very specific diagnosis for a specific problem. According to Mark Fabbri of South University, addiction has a lot to do with compulsion. Someone feels a compulsion to consume something or to act in a particular way to the point where it significantly interferes with the ability just to live. The Merriam-Webster dictionary makes this definition a little clearer; the more a person engages in addictive behavior, the less reward is associated with it, and when the person stops the addictive behavior, the person goes through the physiological symptoms of withdrawal. That withdrawal is a traumatic experience. Mark Fabbri has a list of behaviors that are widely considered to be addictive: substance abuse, for example, as well as sex, gambling, and time on the Internet. It’s well to remember that some of these addictions haven’t been accepted as addictions for very long, and there may well come a time when the definitions of what constitutes an addiction are narrowed again. The problem with automatically labeling too much time on social media or the Internet as an addiction is that if we apply the word with too generous a hand, it becomes meaningless. Not every person who engages in addictive behavior is an addict. Is spending too much time doing anything a problem?

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