There has been an astronimic rise in the number of people suffering from addiction over the last few years, with the likes of alcohol and drugs among the most heartbreaking of killers as people turn to them in a bid to cope during difficult times.
Of course, that’s not a constructive way to do so and so often ends up in rehab or more catastrophic conclusions. However, in rehab centres, there are also more and more people suffering from process addiction, which are essentially behavioural addictions that are the result of compulsive engagement in various activities, including the likes of gambling, shopping, social media and gaming.
It’s a growing trend with the rise and increased accessibility to the internet through our smartphones, and studies have shown that a large part of the addiction could be down to people struggling to regulate their own emotions.
The study, which was put together by the UGA Mary Frances Early College of Education, explored trends in a group of 12 to 17-year-olds, finding that almost 80% of them check social media every day, and 100% of them had a social media account.
Alongside this, 86% of the people in the study also play games through their devices.
The study then found that emotion regulation skills can be among the biggest risks when it comes to growing a dependency on social media or gaming, with Amanda Giordano, the lead author of the study, stating:
“Emotion regulation skills typically develop in the first couple years of life as an infant learns to co-regulate their emotions with an attuned caregiver.”
“But for whatever reason, that might not be the experience of all kids. And so, they end up going through life not knowing how to effectively change how they feel. When they come across social media or gaming, they realize it is a quick and easy way to change their emotional state and may become reliant on them over time.”
Naturally, as these platforms become even more accessible, the risk heightens, particularly as children are largely able to use devices from an earlier and earlier age.
However, Giordano did also add that people can be taught to regulate their feelings, and preventative methods can be put in place both at home and in school.
She added, “Adolescents can learn strategies for alleviating negative emotions and tolerating distress, so they do not rely solely on one rewarding behavior that can lead to negative consequences.”
Therefore, it’s important to instill that into a child from a young age, in order to avoid addiction in later life, and potentially even moving on to the likes of gambling, which can cause even more significant damage.