Recent research by Binghampton University has discovered a link between three personality traits and addiction to social networking.

It starts out as a quick check of your Facebook and Instagram accounts and unwittingly turns in losing chunks of your day on social media and possibly even missing important deadlines or activities because of your online socializing. Does this sound like you?

In a recent blog addressing teen technology addiction, I wrote about ways in which you can help your teen overcome or prevent an addiction to their devices. One point included setting a positive example by implementing personal boundaries around your own personal use of technology.

So, did you know that according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 26% of American adults are nearly constantly online?

In the world of addiction treatment, we hear about all types of chemical substances, but more recently we're hearing about our dependence on technology. But, what's the draw? Why is it so addictive?

Because a "like" on social media is not guaranteed, it elicits the same neurological response as taking a swig of an alcoholic drink or using a drug. When you receive a "like" on your post, your body releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. Once your body has had repeated exposure to this sensation, your risk of developing an addiction increases and you’ll be much more likely to seek it out again and again.

Adam Alter, a New York University professor and author, “Seeing the best version of everyone else’s life [on social media] makes you feel deprived.” And, in my professional experience, after a person experiences an emotional deprivation, it's human nature for individuals to look for ways to self-soothe.

Recent research from Binghampton University discovered a link between personality traits and addiction to social networking. These five factors make up the human personality: Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Openness to new experiences. The study's results indicated that the following three of these are the most at-risk personality traits related to social media addiction.

"There has been plenty of research on how the interaction of certain personality traits affects addiction to things like alcohol and drugs. We wanted to apply a similar framework to social networking addiction. - Isaac Vaghefi, Binghamton University School of Management

3 Personality Types That are Prone to Social Media Addiction

  1. Neuroticism
    This is defined as how prone you are to feeling anxious and stressed, and individuals with higher levels of neuroticism are more likely to develop a social media addiction. If you’re an individual with higher levels of anxiety and stress, you’re more likely to seek comfort and self-soothing from social media.
  2. Agreeableness 
    This is defined as level of friendliness and empathy towards others, individuals with low levels of agreeableness are more likely to develop a social media addiction. These individuals may have less satisfying interpersonal relationships and find more opportunity for self-soothing on social media platforms.
  3. Conscientiousness
    This is defined as having impulse control and the drive to achieve specific goals. Individuals with low levels of conscientiousness tend to have a higher likelihood of developing a social media addiction.

Interestingly, the combined effect of the above mentioned personality traits have a clearer role on development of a social media addiction. For example, just having high levels of conscientiousness puts you in low risk for developing a social media addiction. Though, if you combine that with increased levels of neuroticism, the additional stress and anxiety overrides the preventative factor of conscientiousness.

More research is needed to fully understand the connection between personality types and social media addiction, since the early data only suggests there is a correlation and reinforces the “one size doesn’t fit all” mentality.  

As you evaluate your own use of social media, consider your personality type and what risk factors you may possess. Like so much in today's world, each individual is unique. Striving to know yourself and your tech habits better through self-reflection or therapy, can help you navigate the challenges you encounter with technology.  

If I’ve peaked your interest in social media addiction enough to think more about it, a great place to begin is to get a clear understanding of the amount of time you spend on social media and the impact it has on your day. You may consider tracking your time online and setting goals for yourself to limit number of hours spent on social media in a given day or week.

 
For more tips, read How to Detox from Your Social Media Addiction.

 

About Annemarie Lange

Annemarie Lange is a licensed professional counselor in the Philadelphia area that utilizes mindfulness and meditation to help her clients deal with a variety of challenges.

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