In the past, social butterflies were abundant, claiming the world is their oyster.
Today, these same people are stuck in cocoons, behind laptops and/or mobile screens, with social media influencing their activities, restricting more than freeing.
From what they eat to who they know, social media is the new marketplace for networking, learning, and globetrotting.
Now doctors are giving this phenomenon a new name: Social Media Addiction (SMA).
Discover: What happens in an internet minute?
Studies related to “SMA” point to a common problem: If used in excess social media is a mental health hazard for kids and adults alike.
However, a new center in Tuscany, Italy, called Vibe, promises UAE social media addicts that it could bring them back to reality.
Clinical Director Dr. Stephen Sideroff, who is both a Ph.D. holder and an internationally renowned doctor, details the severe implications when “our virtual worlds lead to a myriad of psychological issues such as sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression.”
Is this a problem in the UAE?
GMI, a website for global insights, details how many people use social media in the UAE, and the results were staggering.
According to their study, 99% of the population in the UAE use social media, amounting to an average usage of 3 hours per day, or approximately 20% of their waking lives.
“With an estimated 13% year-on-year growth of global internet users who engage on social media, it’s inevitably leading to a rise in social media addicts,” said Dr. Sideroff.
What does excessive social media use lead to?
Dr. Sideroff said: “At the very least, saturated users are at risk of damaging their circadian rhythm or succumbing to social anxiety disorders.”
A 27-year-old woman in the UAE told Khaleej Times, that her social media followers of 25,000 have made her addicted.
She said: “Social media has affected my perception of my life, and myself.”
Not only that, but she also feels like social media is influencing her life choices saying things such as: “My followers depend and expect me to post pictures and videos daily.”
That is one of many social media addiction cases, but it is important to note that sometimes, what seems like an addiction, is actually not.
An example of this is Mohamed Al Khalili, an avid Instagram user with over 70,000 followers said: “It’s vital that I allow myself to have a break from time to time from Instagram. Sometimes I disappear for a week,” he said adding, “You need to ensure that you are controlling social platforms, rather than allowing these to control you.”
People like Al Khalili use social media for their work, friends, and families, and in many cases, these are work born necessities, not addictions.
Addiction is characterized by a case where something is influencing your life in a way that is disruptive of your work, social life, and maybe even your relationship with a significant other.
Vibe offers environments and fixative measures for all manner of conditions including depression, addiction, anxiety, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, compulsive behaviors, stress, and burn-out.
Dr. Sideroff says: “Each programme is created to suit the individual, where they will have one to one sessions with our clinical team and work side by side with powerful Sufis, Buddhist monks, yoga teachers and Tai Qi masters.”