It seems like everyone is connected on some form of social media these days, whether your app of choice is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, some combination of these or other apps that we’ve left out. Social media is such an integral part of our lives that we don’t ever stop to think that it might be dangerous. Former Silicon Valley employees, many of whom were part of the rise of social media, have banded together to try to combat the negative impact of their creations.
What does social media addiction look like, and what are these former Silicon Valley employees doing about it?
What Is Social Media Addiction?
Addiction, in and of itself, is defined as any compulsive behaviors that create or cause negative effects, either directly or indirectly. It’s a term most commonly associated with things like substance abuse and gambling, but research shows that other behaviors can be considered addictive, including social media use.
It’s important to note that while social media addiction may be in the news, it is not recognized as an addiction by the medical community as a whole. This fact doesn’t mean that the behavior is any less dangerous or damaging — the lack of recognition simply means that a medical diagnosis hasn’t been recognized yet. Unlike other, more destructive addictions, it can be difficult to determine where the line is between social media use and social media addiction.
The negative effects of social media have been observed in a number of cases. It has been linked to everything from depression and feelings of severe loneliness to eating disorders. It’s been observed that individuals with low self-esteem are often much more active on social media. The increase in both stress and social media use has also been associated with a higher number of hospital admissions for self-harm. Those admissions are up more than 25 percent in boys and nearly 70 percent in girls.
These statistics and the growing number of problems being associated directly with social media are why former Facebook and Google employees are taking a stand.
The Truth About Tech
Former employees from a number of tech giants have banded together to try to stop the negative effects of social media. Jim Steyer and Tristan Harris are two of the minds behind Common Sense Media and the Center for Humane Technology, and they are trying to raise awareness about the problems being caused by social media.
Their next step is a media campaign called The Truth About Tech, which will cost roughly $7 million and educate everyone from parents and teachers to students about the dangers of technology and social media. The campaign also has about $50 million worth of donated airtime from media giants like Comcast and DirecTV, increasing its reach exponentially.
Even the big wigs are starting to be concerned about their part in these problems. Facebook’s former vice president of user growth, Chamath Palihapitiya, has expressed remorse for his role in the creation of the social media monstrosity and has stated that he believes that social media is tearing society apart.
Like any tool, social media can be valuable if used correctly. It brings people together, helps us find each other during natural disasters and can be a fantastic platform for getting your voice heard. Stories come from all over the world about the positive impact of social media — helping adopted children find their biological parents, reuniting people with lost items and even help parents find their children, such as after the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.
Unfortunately, the negative impacts of social media are starting to outweigh the positives. We, as a whole, need to take a step back and reassess social media’s impact on our lives, and the former employees of these tech giants are showing us the way.
About the Author:
Megan Nichols is the editor of Schooled by Science. She enjoys writing about the latest innovations in technology and science.