Five ways to tell if you're addicted to social media

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Suffering FOMO (fear of missing out) and always checking your newsfeed? Need to look at Facebook to know what you're doing this weekend? Tweeting every five seconds? It's difficult to know where to draw the line.

"Sorry something went wrong" - it's the Facebook message that strikes terror into the hearts of social media addicts. When Facebook, Tinder and Instagram all crashed for two hours in September last year, social media users raced to Twitter to pour out their angst with #facebookdown and #tinderproblems hashtags i. Tinder claims to have one billion swipes daily and users were left without love, as you need Facebook to log into it i. UK police were contacted by hysterical users, and the cops tweeted "Yes, we can confirm Facebook is down, please don't call us! Spend time with your family! ii"

Put the phone down, you're in the great outdoors, camping!

Social media is the hardest thing to resist, more so than cigarettes and alcohol, according to a University of Chicago study iii. It also backed up other research that the more you've resisted doing something, such as posting stats of how many squats you've done in your latest workout, the less successful you'll be at subsequently resisting that desire iii. Unsurprisingly, the research showed getting 'likes' and retweets makes you feel good, whereas having posts ignored makes you feel angry and anxious.

An Australian news report cites a psychologist who has treated up to 40 people for social media addiction - mostly teenagers iv - which showed up in symptoms such as a reduced social life, weight gain and causing family conflicts. Despite the ensuing negative impact on their lives, the teens were still addicted, and thought about being on social media even when they weren't on it.

Experts are divided on how much time on social media is too much, as children who've grown up in the age of the internet can regard checking their social media accounts first thing in the morning and last thing at night - and most minutes in between - as being completely normal behaviour iv.


How can you tell if you're addicted?

The nightmarish social catch-up where everyone is checking their phones.

Block it out

If social media is taking over your real-world life, block it out for several hours at a time by downloading software programs such as Cold Turkey or Freedom. These restrict your access and can be programmed to regularly schedule chunks of time when you can be free of such distractions.

i Raven, D. 'Facebook goes down: Tinder and Instagram also crashed in social media meltdown',, 28 September, viewed 9 December 2015,

ii Parsons, J. & Shammas, J. 2015, "Facebook goes down so users call the police, who tell them to spend time with your families instead'",, 30 September, viewed 9 December 2015,

iii UChicagoNews. 2012, 'Study finds lure of entertainment, work hard for people to resist', viewed 9 December 2015,

iv Ceranic, I. 2013, 'Social media addiction a growing concern',, 4 March, viewed 9 December 2015,