Researchers at Michigan State University are exploring the idea that there is more to "social media addiction" than casual jokes…
Researchers at Michigan State University are exploring the idea that there is more to “social media addiction” than casual jokes about being too online can suggest. Their papers titled “Excessive Social Media Users Demonstrate Decreased Decision Making in Iowa Gambling Task” (Meshi, Elizarova, Bender and Verdejo-Garcia) and published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, indicate that people using social media strongly actually show some of the behavioral Characteristics of someone who is dependent on cocaine or heroin.
The study asked 71 participants to first rate their own Facebook use with a measure called Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale. The subject matter then proceeded to complete something called Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a classic research tool that evaluates impaired decision making. IGT presents participants with four virtual decks of cards in conjunction with rewards or punishments and asks them to select cards from the tires to maximize their virtual winnings. As the study explains, “The participants are also informed that some tires are better than others and that if they want to do well, they should avoid the thick tires and choose the cards from the good tires.”
What the researchers found told. Study participants who themselves reported as too large Facebook users actually performed worse than their peers at IGT, frequenting the two “bad” tires that offer immediate gains but the final result in losses. The difference in behavior was statistically significant in the latter part of IGT, when a participant had plenty of time to observe the tire patterns and knows which tires are the greatest risk.
IGT has been used to study everything from patients with frontal lobe brain damage to heroin addicts, but uses it as a step to investigate social media addicts are new. Together with deeper structural research, it is obvious that researchers can use social media users much of the existing methodological framework for learning substance abuse.
The study is narrow but interesting and offers some ways for follow-up research. As scientists acknowledge, scientists can actually observe the social media of the participants and sort them into categories of high or low social media use based on behavior rather than a survey they fill in.
Future research can also dig deeper into excessive users of various social network. The study just looked at Facebook usage, “because it is currently the most widely used [social network] around the world,” but one can expect to see similar results with billion-plus monthly Instagram and possibly the significantly smaller portion of the people on Twitter.
Ultimately, we know that social media are shifting human behavior and possibly its neurological foundations, we just do not know the extent of it ̵
1; anyway. Due to the methodological nature of behavioral research and the often extremely lengthy process of publishing it, we are unlikely to know for many years that the results of studies conducted now. As this study shows, there are researchers at work who investigate how social media affect our brains and our behavior – we may not be able to see the big picture for some time.