Social Media addiction a life threatening disorder: Dr Purnima Nagaraja

Social Media addiction a life threatening disorder: Dr Purnima Nagaraja
Highlights

Social Media addiction a life threatening disorder, Increased presence of civilization on social media has some disastrous ramifications on real lives

Increased presence of civilization on social media has some disastrous ramifications on real lives. People tend to spend more time communicating on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter as compared to existing in the realm of an urban society. While social networking has many advantages to improve one's network, excessive abuse has proved to cost lives dearly in the recent times.
Dr Purnima Nagaraja, Director of Dhriti Psychiatric Care chats up with The Hans Team and explains the increasing need to cut down on the addiction.
Please explain us about the factors that cause people getting hooked to a virtual medium like Facebook
There are various reasons why people get addicted to social networking. The most important one being the tendency to display narcissism via a single outlet that connects them to the whole world. While some people go ballistic showcasing their best self, there are few others who hide behind a celebrity profile picture in order to boost their self esteem. People want to be someone they are not, and social media is an excellent way to do the same. Most individuals tend to create an imaginary version of their own self. This leads to the extreme cases of socially awkward alter ego coming to the fore.
Some individuals maintain 2 to 3 accounts to indulge in activities like internet dating and sex.
What is the flip side to this addiction? How serious can this get?
The increased presence on the virtual medium is practically costing lives. While a controlled use is quite okay, living 24 hours on the virtual forum can be dangerous. The recent incident of a girl suicide in United States just because she was bullied by a group of friends to 'die' is a standing testimonial to this fact. What more, there are increasing cases of harassment, blackmail, internet sex and human trafficking going on due to the vulnerability to flourish online.
Can you share some real incidents that happened in the recent times?
We had a girl coming to us for therapy after being victimized and blackmailed by an unknown stranger on Facebook. The assailant posed himself to be a celebrity, faked identity and got physically close to the victim. He then took her naked pictures and blackmailed her to do atrocious things. We took the help of Cyber Crime team to track down the man while also taking care of her therapy.
How well is the Cyber Crime team coping with such addictions
They are doing everything they can to control the damages.However, one has to understand that social media crime happens mostly with two parties mutually involved. Currently there is no stringent law for such cases. A great caution has to be exercised by women while making friends with strangers on social networking.
What is the root cause for a social media addiction in youngsters turning into a crime?
Busy parents who do not supervise their children are mostly to blame. Teenagers these days spend more time on social networking than going out and playing a sport. Parents, on the other hand have hectic schedules with work and domestic life that keeps them outrun the main priority towards their children. Parents have to supervise children closely these days. This will make a great difference as kids usually seek companionship on the social media when they are lonely and do not get quality time with their elders. There is an increased need for inter personal interaction between parents and children.
What is the remedy for the social media fixation?
The new age addictions such as social media have the same treatments that are given to patients suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), substance abuse and drugs. A honest attempt to make a life shift rests with the individual alone. We help to achieve the same in full measure from our end.
Can you tell us about the kind of therapies available for this disorder
We have therapies like De- Addiction Program, where the patient is subjected to a detailed counseling. The withdrawal symptoms are also similar to those of substance abuse, smoking and depression. The progress made by the patient heavily depends on efforts put in tandem with ours.
Dr Purnima Nagaraja is Consultant psychiatrist psychotherapist and director of DHRITHI Hospitals Hyderabad.
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