Out of the estimated world population of 7.7 billion, 3.1 billion are actively engaged in a variety of social media platforms for various reasons. From this figure, about 50% of the population is at risk of becoming social media addicts and suffering from its untold consequences.
Frequent intercourse with social media is likely to cause far greater addiction consequences than those of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs combined. Here are five approaches that can be used to tame the explosion of social media addiction.
Personal Initiatives: Social media platforms are at the palm of the hand unlike alcohol which may not be accessible 24/7; cigarettes which are banned in public places or drugs which are consumed in secrecy. Some people get online as soon as they wake up; during inactive moments; before sleeping and when tackling insomnia.
Others would rather miss meals and other face-to-face interactions than keep away from the enslaving mobile phone. To avert the dangers of the ongoing and forthcoming internet pandemic, people should develop self-discipline initiatives such as scheduling social media times; switching off unnecessary applications and engaging in other forms of enriching social activities.
Workplace Programmes: Due to free internet access at workplaces, some employees squander productive time roaming from one social media platform to another. Employers are at great pains to put into place effective systems that would reduce the amount of time employees spend on internet tournaments.
Others have thrown caution to the wind, which has further re-fueled the amount of time consumed in social media. Employers should declare excessive social media engagements as a workplace disaster that must be addressed beginning with awareness creation programmes.
Parental Styles Changes: Family lifestyles have not been spared from the menace that internet-sponsored interactions continue to unleash. At the living room, parents and children are holding external social competitions in silence. Family members would rather chat with each other online than hold face to face meeting to resolve conflicts. Parents, who themselves may already be addicted to social media, should impose negotiated restrictions on children’s internet usage.
Spiritual Intervention: Religious institutions have continued to turn a blind eye as followers languish in the social media prisons even during worship sessions. Most of the internet content the faithful are exposed to breaks all the rules that religion is expected to champion.
When the ugly face of the internet finally causes high social addition causalities on the faithful, the spiritual establishments will only lay blame on satanic forces. It is time the religious community stepped in to inform followers of the consequences of uncontrolled social media usage.
Review of Media Legislation: The current legislation on telecommunications has mainly focused on the communications infrastructure and service delivery without regard to its effects on users. The education laws have not integrated the usage of online into the delivery and reception of school and college curricula.
The government has a social responsibility to review the current legislation to address the raging social media issues to avert effects on national productivity.