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Excessive social media use akin to drug addiction: Study

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Scientists have found a connection between excessive use and impaired risky decision-making, which is commonly deficient in substance

"Around one-third of humans on the planet are using social media, and some of these people are displaying maladaptive, excessive use of these sites," said Dar Meshi, an at (MSU) in the US.

"Our findings will hopefully motivate the field to take overuse seriously," Meshi said.

The findings, published in the Journal of Behavior Addictions, are the first to examine the relationship between use and risky capabilities.

"Decision making is oftentimes compromised in individuals with substance use disorders. They sometimes fail to learn from their mistakes and continue down a path of negative outcomes," Meshi said.

"But no one previously looked at this behaviour as it relates to excessive social media users, so we investigated this possible parallel between and substance abusers.

"While we didn't test for the cause of poor decision-making, we tested for its correlation with problematic social media use," he said.

Researchers had 71 participants take a survey that measured their psychological dependence on Facebook, similar to

Questions on the survey asked about users' preoccupation with the platform, their feelings when unable to use it, attempts to quit and the impact that has had on their job or studies.

The researchers then had the participants do the Iowa Gambling Task, a common exercise used by psychologists to measure

To successfully complete the task, users identify outcome patterns in decks of cards to choose the best possible deck.

The researchers found that by the end of the gambling task, the worse people performed by choosing from bad decks, the more excessive their

The better they did in the task, the less their social media use. This result is complementary to results with substance abusers.

People who abuse opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, among others -- have similar outcomes on the Iowa Gambling Task, thus showing the same deficiency in

"With so many people around the world using social media, it's critical for us to understand its use," Meshi said.

"I believe that social media has tremendous benefits for individuals, but there's also a dark side when people can't pull themselves away. We need to better understand this drive so we can determine if should be considered an addiction," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 10 2019. 18:10 IST