Is social media use a potentially addictive behavior?- finds
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Social media use has become a ubiquitous part of society, with 3.8 billion users worldwide. While research has shown that there are positive aspects to social media engagement, much of the focus has been on the negative mental health outcomes which are associated with excessive use. Frequent use of social media may not amount to the same as addiction, according to research at the University of Strathclyde.

Here researchers assess whether one hallmark of addiction, the priority processing of addiction related stimuli known as an ‘attentional bias’, is evident in a group of social media users. Using mock iPhone displays, they test whether social media stimuli preferentially capture users' attention and whether the level of bias can be predicted by platform use (self-report, objective smartphone usage data), and whether it is associated with scores on established measures of social media engagement (SMES) and social media ‘addiction’ severity scales (BSNAS, SMAQ).

The findings do not provide support for a social media specific attentional bias. While there was a large range of individual differences in the measures of use, engagement, and ‘addictive’ severity, these were not predictive of, or associated with, individual differences in the magnitude of attentional capture by social media stimuli.

"Much more research is required into the effects of social media use, both positive and negative, before definitive conclusions can be reached about the psychological effects of engagement with these platforms. Our research indicates that frequent social media use may not, at present, necessarily fit into traditional addiction frameworks”, said the author.

Journal of Behavioral Addictions
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