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Can’t stop checking your Facebook or Instagram news feed? Here is why……

Nowadays, it is a very common behavior to take a selfie with your phone when you arrived at the entrance of a famous art museum and post it on Facebook or Instagram.  After posting the photo on social media, it is inevitable for us to feel our urge to check our Facebook or Instagram to see who gives us likes and comments.  At the extreme, a person may check his or her phone every five to ten minutes while walking inside the famous museum without really appreciating a single piece of art.

Why are we so addicted to social media?  Research showed that when we post something about ourselves and receive a like or a comment on social media, the nucleus accumbens of our brain is activated.  This is a region that mostly links to the development of addiction.  It involves opioid transmission that brings pleasure to us and relieves our pain.  The reward we obtained from receiving likes and comments on our posting on social media becomes positive reinforcement to motivate us to repeat the behavior.  As a result, addiction develops.  It is biologically rewarding for talking about ourselves and receiving feedback about our sharing.

Sometimes, frequent social media users may depend on the use of Facebook or Instagram for mood regulation.  That is, they post an update whenever they feel low, so that they get the connection and attention from their friends online. In fact, research showed that a preference for online social interaction is related to poorer mood regulation, lower self-worth, and increased social withdrawal.  Seeking approval from posting on social media does not solve the core problems of mood dysregulation and low self-worth.  The addicted behavior may cause the person to have increased fluctuating emotions (e.g. when seeing someone’s latest and greatest photos in an extravagant trip).  This addiction may also make the person relies on online interaction too much and reduced in-person social contact.  This exacerbates one’s loneliness and depressive mood.

If you find yourself checking news feed of Facebook or Instagram many times per day, it is the time for you to reflect on your use of social media.  You may try to be more aware of your urge to check the news feed and not to react to the urge when it comes.  When containing the urge to check the phone, you may try to enjoy the present moment by continue to do what you are doing, such as appreciating the arts of the art museum.  Let’s go out to meet our friends in person and enjoy more outdoor activities, such as dancing, hiking, or golfing in this autumn and fall.  For mood regulation, mindfulness exercises, yoga, or aerobic exercises are also good choices.

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