8 Signs Of YouTube Addiction
YouTube is an awesome place. You get a whole lot of education and entertainment for free and instantaneously.
But that is what makes it almost too awesome. With endless videos, comes endless distractions.
You search for that one music video you couldn't get out of your head and then somehow, two hours later, you find yourself watching indians build a pool in the jungle. Millions of people, including myself, have found themselves trapped in this YouTube binge-watching cycle at one point or another.
While it feels nice when you are doing it, after you finish, those hours spent are gone forever and often accompanied with regret if you had other important things to do.
If you are here, I'm glad! That means you are introspective and care about your well-being.
Whether further ado, here some important signs that indicate whether or not your YouTube use goes beyond a pastime activity. These signs are closely modeled after Keith Beard's criteria for diagnosing internet addiction.
Signs Of YouTube Addiction
1. Binging is your default activity
When you go on YouTube, the main motive isn't directed to a specific purpose, like how to fold clothes or program. Instead, it's derived from the desire to mindlessly distract yourself with random videos.
However, this activity is not enough to classify a problem in of itself. After all, binge-watching could just be your way of dealing with boredom.
Binge-watching becomes more indicative of having an addiction when you pair it with the other signs listed below.
2. YouTube is used as a medium to avoid life problems
While it may be fine binge-watching to cope with everyday stress, it's definitely not okay when that stress is derived from avoiding life problems.
And I am not talking about short-term instances of avoidance, like the occasional binge done to procrastinate on writing your English essay that still gets finished.
I'm talking to the people who default to avoiding their life problems on a day-to-day basis.
People who would rather give up on having meaningful relationships instead of working on their social anxiety that results in their loneliness.
People who would rather cope with working at a career they find soul-crushing instead of working towards attaining a purpose-driven career at the end of the day.
And I totally get it. I've been there myself, thinking my problems are too hard or even impossible to overcome due to limiting beliefs I've had.
But avoiding your life problems almost never works in your favor.
You may temporarily feel okay when you are distracting yourself in the moment with random videos, but you often feel even more stress the longer you avoid your problems.
I know, I know. This is obvious information. But it's also obvious information that you have an unhealthy relationship with YouTube, and most importantly, your life.
3. Negative feelings appear after you stop watching YouTube videos.
With avoidance, comes suppressed negative feelings that come back to haunt you whenever you inevitably have to take a break from watching videos.
By distracting yourself from your thoughts and feelings through YouTube videos, it makes you numb to the discomforts and adversities you face from your life.
But when you stop watching videos, you stop the numbing of the pain. And you always have to face that pain at some point.
Whether that point is on your bathroom break or when you are trying to sleep at night, negative feelings like dread and sadness arise.
And that is a good thing. These thoughts and feelings are there to remind you that you have a problem to resolve.
4. Binges seem almost impossible to control
Behavioral addiction causes physical brain changes just like substance addiction does.
Increased impulsivity is one of the known effects caused by such brain changes. The more severe the internet addiction is, the harder it is to regulate impulsivity.
So if you...
- Had previous attempts to prevent binges from occurring that have failed.
- Often find it impossible to stop binging once you start.
You could very well be more impulsive as a direct result of your YouTube binge-watching.
The more you have out of control binge-watching sessions, the more your brain reinforces that behavior.
The more your brain reinforces that behavior, the less willpower you tend to have for regulating impulsivity.
5. You have low motivation to do other things
Unfortunately, increased impulsivity isn't the only notable brain change.
Overstimulation from binging videos hijacks the brain's reward system. As a result, the brain compensates for the overstimulation by providing a numbed response to pleasure.
Having higher tolerance for pleasure results in diminishing your motivation for everything. This is because your brain's reward system has a higher baseline for incentivising motivation.
Cleaning your room may have been a 5/10 on the pleasure scale before but after being desensitized to pleasure it becomes a 2/10 activity.
Starting new habits, like playing piano and going to the gym, require much more effort than you would normally need.
The only activities your brain has enough incentive to do are the ones that provide instantaneous and pleasurable rewards for little to no effort.
6. You need to binge more to get the same satisfaction
Due to the numbed pleasure response, you need to spend more time binging in order to get the same level of pleasure that you once had.
If you find yourself increasing the time you spend binge-watching, you are probably building up a greater tolerance as you prolong your binge sessions.
7. Your YouTube use has notable consequences
While YouTube is great, sacrificing your quality of life for watching random videos is not.
If you have or had any notable consequences for binging, that is a clear sign that you are addicted to YouTube.
Has your YouTube use been a byproduct of career consequences, like being fired from your job or failing classes?
Are your relationships ruined, withering, or not as fulfilling as you want them to be because you don't put time into them like you would for YouTube videos?
YouTube should be used as a tool to enrich your life, not hinder it. If you are using YouTube in a self-destructive manner that negatively impacts your livelihood, it is definitely time for a change.
8. You feel withdrawal symptoms when YouTube use is limited or removed
If you are having cravings to watch videos on your vacation, you aren't going crazy.
Remember, behavioral addiction brain changes are comparable to substance addiction. The main difference between behavioral and substance addiction is that physical withdrawal symptoms are absent in behavioral addicts.
So you won't have anything like cold sweats, but you will still have psychological symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms from YouTube would show in your mood and cognition.
You may feel anxious or sad, but one thing is guaranteed, you will get cravings to use YouTube.
Want to know if you truly have an addiction to YouTube? Try quitting for a week and see if you notice any cravings to watch videos.
If you find yourself resonating with these signs, you most likely suffer from YouTube addiction, which is a byproduct of internet addiction.
Don't worry, you haven't done permanent damage to your brain from YouTube addiction.
You can always revert your brain back to normal due neuroplasticity. This is the process of making your brain adaptable to changes, good or bad.
If you want to rewire your brain to overcome YouTube addiction and/or want to resolve any potential problems you are avoiding with YouTube, I encourage you to start your YouTube addiction recovery journey as soon as possible.