Social media as addictive as chocolate, alcohol and nicotine

Published: 11 May 2017

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A new study has warned that the simple sight of a Facebook logo is sending social media users into a tizz, with researchers suggesting it’s just as addictive as alcohol, chocolate or nicotine.

The study, based at Vrije University in Amsterdam, revealed society is so obsessed with social media that we made need to put measures in place to develop a rehabilitation programme for addicts.

As part of the study researchers followed the online habits of 200 people. They found Facebook’s logo triggered “spontaneous, pleasurable reactions” which make it hard for regular users to resists online time.

Although, the sight of a Facebook logo didn’t have the same effect on less frequent social media users.

Nonetheless, the findings have experts concerned that it could be detrimental to mental health.

“Frequent Facebook users showed more favourable affective reactions in response to Facebook cues compared to control cues,” Dr Guido van Koningsbruggen.

“Less-frequent Facebook users' affective reactions did not differ between Facebook and control cues.

“These results support our hypothesis that exposure to social media cues triggers spontaneous hedonic reactions in frequent social media users.”

He went on to explain that given “cravings reflect one of the aspects of problematic or unregulated media use and have been associated with a preference for immediately rewarding behaviour when tempted, we speculate that the observed spontaneous hedonic reactions to social media cues might also be associated with people's failures to resist social media temptations.”

So basically, we’re already hooked.

Now researchers suggest educating people on understanding “hedonic” reactions.