EXCLUSIVE: A world-first study has found the behaviour of extreme social media users is like that of drug addicts and problem gamblers.
The research, conducted by Michigan State University, Monash University and McGill University, showed poor decision making skills and volatile withdrawal symptoms were among the most common traits shared between the groups.
Professor Antonio Verdejo-Garcia, from the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences, said the study highlighted a worrying trend.
“Social media use continues to grow, with many individuals displaying anxious and even conflictive behaviour when attempting to withdraw from these online channels,” he said.
“We want this study to highlight the potentially adverse consequences that excessive social media use can have to our decision-making and general mental wellbeing.”
The findings of the report were published in the Journal of Behavior Addictions.
More than 70 people between the ages of 18 and 35 took part in the study, which measured their psychological dependence on Facebook.
Participants then completed a survey which probed their preoccupation with the platform, their feelings when unable to use it, attempts to quit and the impact that Facebook has had on their job or studies.
They were then asked to complete a number of tasks that assessed their ability to determine the best possible outcome when given money.
“The participants that performed the worst displayed the most excessive social media use,” Professor Verdejo-Garcia said.
According to the 2018 Yellow Social Media Report by Sensis, nearly 40 per cent of Australian 18 to 29-year-olds felt anxious when unable to access social media.
The report also found more than one-third of Australians access social media more than five times per day.