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Can Social Media Be Addictive?

Visiting Klout.com today, I was asked to answer this question:

Do you believe social media can be addictive? Why or why not?

Here’s my response:

Yes, social media can absolutely be addictive. Variable, intermittent responses are highly habit-forming. Sometimes you’ll have a response, sometimes not, and it’s impossible to predict. Even when there’s no response, it’s easy to find something new to start that cycle of engagement again.

To learn more about intermittent reinforcements check out this section of the Wikipedia page on reinforcement.

7 Responses to Can Social Media Be Addictive?

  • Profile photo of Steven L. Johnson

    What do you think? How would you answer the question?

  • Without a doubt there is too great of an urge to be part of the conversation. To share your views and experiences. That is what makes it fun!

  • What do you think about Empire Avenue? Certainly, that is an addictive game. It seems to require more and more activity keep it going just like an addict requires a stronger and stronger dose to get the same effect. Do you think Empire Avenue has any real value? Why do people play it?

  • I believe that social media certainly can be addictive. I think you made this point, sorry for not reading more closely but because it is possible to receive a reinforcement at any time, social media keeps responding at a very high level. For example, some people check their email many times a day because a message can arrive at any time, not just once a day as with regular mail.

  • Profile photo of Steven L. Johnson

    Michael — Thanks for your comments.

    I have mixed feelings abut Empire Avenue. I think the social media metrics part is better than most other services, but it’s value is diluted by the game aspect. The game part can be fun, but is too complicated to draw in most people. For me the real value is the people I’ve met there.

    And, yes, checking email multiple times a day is another great example of the power of intermittent reinforcement.

  • Yes Social Media is Addictive. It is because when some one starting using/surfing it. It sits for long hours and wasting his time. I found some post on social media is repeating continuously and nothing new happening.

  • There is too great to be part of the conversation, to share your experiences





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