Q: What are some of the causes of addiction to social networking? How and why do people get hooked? What is the allure of social media compared to attachment to people in a three-dimensional context? How many Americans are addicted to social networking?
A: Social networking addiction is like any other: the dependent person gauges their self-esteem and regulates their emotions through their addiction rather than through direct connection with their "real" interpersonal surround.
The causes for this type of addiction runs the gamut from depression, despair of making contact with people face-to-face, to anxiety disorders, fear of disappointment and potential confirmation of a core identity that is neither strong enough nor worthy enough to gain the attention of others without the use of the addictive medium as a go-between.
If one is neglected in a Facebook foray, in contrast to a get-together with a friend, no other person is privy to the reality of this defeat. The shame and loneliness that a person who uses social networking to shield themselves from the risks that contact with others can - at least for a time - remain private. Issues such as facing humiliation at one's need for others can seem to be under control despite a characteristic sense of desperation that is the hallmark of addiction.
Current Facebook users number at approximately 30 million! Because social networking addiction has not been formally recognized as a diagnosable condition there are no reliable studies or statistics on how many of users are addicted.
I'd estimate that between five and ten percent of social media users - conservatively pegged at 5 million - are addicts.