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Study: Social Media May Be Just As Addicting As Other Vices, Drugs and Alcohol

(WWJ) -- Many consider social media as a "serious hobby," but a report from Harvard University explains that social media addiction can be just as problematic as any other addiction.

The study shows that disclosing information about yourself via social media can trigger the same sensations as eating or drinking. Dr. Gerald Shiener of Birmingham specializes in addiction psychiatry and said that social media can be as addicting as any drug.

"People gravitate to social media because it's a way to seem like you're contacting people while you take no risk," Shiener said. "You sit at you computer, people can't see how you look, people can't see your tone of voice, whether you're smiling or not and you can really control what you show -- that's very safe communication."

When it comes to young people, Shiener said that parents should be aware of what's going on with their children.

"They have to have rules in the house," Shiener said. "No texting at the dinner table; a certain amount of time that has to be spent outside your room -- I'm not very big on letting kids have their own computers in their own room. Let them us their computers in public areas -- the house -- so people can see what they're doing.

"Kids at that age shouldn't have anything to hide."

Shiener pointed out that it isn't just youngsters who get addicted to social media -- adults also lose the ability to interact with people if exposed too much to social media.

The Harvard report indicated that a person may be addicted if they post to social media in the middle of a crisis before calling for help or if they ignore the person sitting right next to them in favor of sending a post.

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