What started out as a spoof has now become a recognised mental health issue...
The term ‘selfitis’ is being used to describe an addiction to taking selfies, and the repercussions it can have on a person’s mental health.
Apparently this idea was first coined as a spoof news story back in 2014, but it seems that the digital age might have lead to it becoming a very real thing.
A paper – written by Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University, and Janarthanan Balakrishnan – has now been published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.
The study, which has been described as something of a ‘breakthrough’, was based on findings from monitoring 400 participants and their social media tendencies.
These participants were based in India, and the country was chosen because it has the most users on Facebook as well as the highest fatality rate as a result of trying to take selfies in dangerous locations.
It was found that yes, ‘selfitis’ is a very real thing – so much so, that they’ve even developed a ‘Selfitis Behaviour Scale’ to rate the varying severities of the condition.
Borderline: Taking selfies at least three times a day, but not actually uploading them to social media.
Acute: Taking selfies at least three times a day, and actually posting all of them on social media.
Chronic: Feeling the uncontrollable urge to take selfies 24/7, and posting at least six of them to social media in a day.
Dr Janarthanan Balakrishnan, a research associate from Nottingham Trent’s Department of Psychology, said: ‘Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behaviour, and what can be done to help people who are the most affected.’
This isn’t the first time that technology has been linked to mental health.
In 2016, the word ‘nomophobia‘ came about, which described ‘the fear’ that most of us feel when we’re not near our phones.
At the time we reported on a survey by Row, which stated that 73% of the 40 million Brits who owned smartphones experienced serious anxiety when they were away from their mobile devices.
Row reported that the most common reason for feeling anxious was not being able to contact friends and family (52%), being unable to be contacted (43%), being unable to check social media (18%), being unable to check the news (15%) and being unable to take photos and videos (8%).
As much as we love social media, perhaps there’s something in the idea of having a digital detox every once in a while…