Six Questions Could Test for Social Media Addiction

Young people using smartphones and ignoring each otherSix simple screening questions can test for social media addiction, according to James Roberts, PhD, a marketing professor at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business. Roberts researches smartphone addiction and wrote the book Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?

A recent poll from Common Sense Media shows about half of all teens feel they are addicted to their smartphones, and at least 59% of parents believe their kids are addicted. Nearly two-thirds of parents say their teenagers spend too much time using mobile devices, and 52% of teens feel the same way.

Are You Addicted to Social Media?

According to Roberts, social media addiction shares six key features with other behavioral addictions: building tolerance for the stimulus, symptoms of withdrawal, conflict about the source of the addiction, high salience of the addictive behavior, a sense of euphoria when indulging the addiction, and vulnerability to relapse.

Roberts suggests six questions can uncover these features and identify social media addiction. Those questions are:

  1. Salience: Is social media use heavily integrated into your daily routine?
  2. Tolerance: Do you find yourself spending progressively more time on social media to get the same satisfaction?
  3. Euphoria: Do you rely on social media as a source of excitement, or to cope with boredom or loneliness?
  4. Withdrawal: Do you feel a need to use social media, and feel edgy or anxious when you cannot?
  5. Relapse: Do attempts to quit or reduce social media use fail?
  6. Conflict: Does social media cause problems in your life or conflicts with loved ones?

Answering in the affirmative to three or more questions points toward a social media addiction.

Why Is Social Media Addiction a Problem?

Previous research suggests excessive use of social media can affect mental health. For example, a 2015 study found a correlation between significant use of social media in teens and untreated mental health issues. Another 2016 study indicated an addiction to the internet may be associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression.

Roberts cautions that social media use can undermine in-person relationships by causing users to prioritize online relationships. Therapy can help effectively treat social media addiction, as well as other compulsive behaviors.


  1. Are you addicted to social media? Expert offers six questions to ask yourself. (2016, October 20). Retrieved from
  2. Dallas, M. (2016, September 18). Internet addiction may be red flag for other mental health issues: Study. Retrieved from
  3. Mozes, A. (2015, July 31). Too much Facebook, Twitter, tied to poor mental health in teens. Retrieved from
  4. Wallace, K. (2016, July 29). Half of teens think they’re addicted to their smartphones. Retrieved from

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  • Leave a Comment
  • vAnEsSa

    November 8th, 2016 at 4:19 PM

    I swear that I work with this lady who every time I look over at her at her desk she is checking her phone and seeing how many likes she has received or what may have changed since she last checked five minutes go!
    It literally drives me crazy that the boss never seems to walk by when she is doing that!

  • Lora

    November 10th, 2016 at 11:28 AM

    We seem to all get so swept away by how other people are living their lives that we are totally cluelss about our own lives that are being ignored :/

  • laila

    March 19th, 2018 at 7:50 AM

    why was social media made?

  • Joe mama

    February 16th, 2022 at 9:54 AM

    IDK ask Mark Zuckerberg. your welcome

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