Effect of Infinite Scrolling on Mental Health

Infinite Scrolling Social Media

Today in the era of social media, we have immense number of benefits from social media – from making our career as content creator to getting knowledge regarding various topics, but whenever we use social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube and tik tok, there is a rabbit hole; that is infinite scrolling which is the new kind of addiction among population but we are unaware of this consciously.

Infinite scrolling offers never-ending content feeds that automatically load as you scroll down and has become synonymous with social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and tok tok. These platforms are designed to keep users glued to their screens, offering a seemingly endless stream of new posts, images, and videos. We end up in a habit of scrolling through an endless social media feed and no longer have will power to stop consuming content until we are exhausted.

In year 2023 there are 4.89 billion social media users or we can say prone to infinite scrolling. India as world’s most populous country, is more prone to infinite scrolling for its majority of youth.

Why do we get stuck Scrolling Indefinitely?

Let’s find out the cause of scrolling:

Social Media Algorithm

We all might have experienced that when we watch a dance video on our social media it automatically feeds more related videos and we end up watching all those. It has been also found that if we watch 5 videos of similar category, there is 21% higher chances of us watching more videos, hence endless scrolling.

Uninterrupted consumption of content leads to 22% increase in chance of watching another video, hence these all ends up you into rabbit hole named infinite scrolling

Desire to Escape and Instant Pleasure

Release of dopamine with every photo you scroll through, create a loop which ends up making you want more, hence cause infinite scrolling. The social media platforms are designed in a way that they tap into our natural inclination to seek novelty and provides instant gratification, making it highly addictive.

Bite Size Content

Now a days we are getting accessibility to lots of content in small amount of size for e.g.: reels on Instagram, shorts on you tube and many more creating content available to large number of people.

How Infinite Scrolling affect our Mental Health?

Let’s find what effect this mindless scrolling is doing to us

1. Biological Effects

constant surge of dopamine from gains in popularity and content consumption keeps us hooked and reduce our dopamine production in long duration activity because mind learns to produce happy hormones due to entertainment. Due to this, we don’t use our brain sufficiently which leads to decline in cognitive functioning. Social media also triggers our limbic system affecting our emotional responses.

2. Physical Effects

Due to continuous use of social media, we achieve status of flow which hampers our day-to-day life activities. This further can hamper with our –

  • Circadian rhythms – disturbs our body clock, makes us lazy, and gives us withdrawal feeling, ultimately leading us to mental health problems.
  • Sleep Disturbances – Excessive scrolling, particularly before bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns. The blue light emitted from screens interferes with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to poor sleep quality and, in the long term, potential insomnia.

3. Psychological Effects

The biological and physical effects have an adverse impact on our psychological well-being too. Hormone disturbances leads to anxiety, depression and sometimes panic attack. Other psychological impact include –

  • Decline in Cognitive Functioning – Problem in maintaining attention in long term task, and not being able to focus on tasks requiring priority.
  • Endless Comparisons – Social media platforms often present carefully curated content, showcasing the highlights of people’s lives. Endless scrolling can lead to constant comparisons, fostering feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and low self-esteem.
  • Reduced Real-world Interaction – Excessive time spent scrolling can lead to isolation and reduced face-to-face social interaction, which are crucial for mental and emotional well-being. We can feel loneliness in real life no matter how many followers we have in reel life.
  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) – Infinite scrolling often triggers FOMO, as users fear missing out on the latest news or trends. This can result in anxiety and an unhealthy obsession with staying constantly connected.
  • Ignorance of Responsibilities – People can spend hours scrolling, unintentionally wasting valuable time that could be used for more productive or meaningful activities. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety when deadlines and responsibilities are neglected.

Mitigating the Impact of Infinite Scrolling

What we can do to stop this –

  • Curate Your Feed: Be mindful of the content you consume. Unfollow accounts that trigger negative emotions, and follow those that inspire and uplift you.
  • Try to Interrupt Algorithm – We can limit watching endless videos by simply breaking the social media algorithm. Whan we are watching videos we can try to consume unrelated video of separate categories for example – one video of food, another of art, another of education this helps to break the algorithm.
  • Break from Social Media – We need to take break from social media as we take break from our regular life routine as holiday, spend time in nature under trees, with family and friends.
  • Intentional Interruption – We can use social media timer or sticky notes on table that will constantly remind us to limit using social media or consuming different content.
  • Ask for Help – If one feels that he cannot control infinite scrolling by himself he can take help from a Mental Health Professional like – a Psychologist or Counselor.

Infinite scrolling has undoubtedly changed the way we interact with online content, but its impact on mental health cannot be ignored. It has the potential to foster addictive behaviors, negatively influence self-esteem, and disrupt our daily lives.

The good news is, a better understanding of what makes the rabbit hole so powerful can also give us the tool we need to escape it. By adopting mindful scrolling habits and setting boundaries, we can harness the benefits of this design feature while protecting our mental well-being in an increasingly digital world. Balancing our online and offline lives is crucial for a healthy mind in the age of infinite scrolling.

So next time whenever you start scrolling your account please try to use mindfulness scrolling and a finite scrolling.

Also Read: The FOMO Trap: Overcoming the Fear of Missing Out

Internet Gaming Disorder: When Fun Turns into Addiction

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  1. It was really really helpful and i would try to take care mentioned points for my mental health thank you so much 😊🫂

  2. Great job,You chose burning topic of 2023 with ways/ideas..👍
    UPSC Mains 23 ka question bhi tha is pr..