An illustration of a person's head cut open and a cellphone hovering above them spilling a river of black sludge, representing social media, into their brain cavity
USC Dornsife researchers compared the motivations behind habitual and nonhabitual social media users’ behavior. (Image Source: Pixabay/Mohamed Hassan.)

Social media’s addictive loop compels users to share mindlessly

A USC Dornsife study revealed that frequent and infrequent users of social media respond differently to social rewards. Altering a platform’s structure may curb negative habits.
ByIleana Wachtel

People join social media to enhance their social lives, make new friends and build an online identity while expressing themselves. However, as they delve deeper into these digital realms, their behavior changes.

Engaging in likes, shares, posts and retweets becomes habitual, eclipsing the original motivations that initially drew them to the platform. What was once a conscious choice transforms into automatic, almost impulsive action.

Those are the findings of a new study by researchers at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Despite public health experts raising concerns about the negative impact on mental health and overall well-being, particularly among young users, a significant majority of Americans — 70%, according to Pew Research — still find themselves drawn to their apps daily, some even hourly.

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