Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Davianna. Davianna Wonders, “Why are we so addictided to social media?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Davianna!

We were wandering through the Wonderopolis jungle the other day when we overheard an interesting conversation between a few animals gathered around a watering hole:

Elephant: *sigh* I miss the days when we would all meet here to chat over a fresh swig of water…now everyone just stares at their phones!

Parrot: Sorry, Elephant! I was just tweeting about last night's episode of So You Think You Can Squawk!

Rhinoceros: That episode was hilarious! But it wasn't as funny as these gazelle memes my friend Leopard just posted on Junglebook.

Monkey: I saw those! Hilarious! Hold on, Elephant, we can chat as soon as I finish posting this picture of my breakfast to Instabanana.

Can you sympathize with Elephant? Some people probably can! Now and then, you might hear adults saying that people used to gather together to talk, but these days, everyone is lost in their own worlds with their smartphones. While that is an exaggeration, it's true that we have more technology at our fingertips than ever before.

What is everyone doing on their smartphones? A huge amount of people are using them to access social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest. Social media sites allow users to interact with others in a variety of ways, sharing thoughts, pictures, opinions, music, videos, ideas, to name a few.

People who bemoan the prevalence of smartphones and our apparent obsession with social media sites might have a point: researchers now believe that using social media could be addicting. So what is it about these sites that keep users coming back over and over again?

Neuroscientists who have studied online dependency believe it can be quite similar to physical addiction. For example, researchers now believe that social media sites can trigger certain pleasure centers in the brain, some of which are the same centers triggered by drugs.

Social media users repeatedly return to the same sites, looking for the latest posts, tweets, pictures, and videos to satisfy their desire to stay on top of the latest news, trends, and actions of their friends and the others they follow. Social media sites possess the allure of always providing something new.

Is social media addiction really a big deal, though? After all, what's the harm? Experts believe it can have very real and very harmful effects on physical and mental health, relationships, and even finances.

Studies suggest that nearly three-fourths of adults online use social media sites. Of those users, the average user spends about 23 hours per week on social media. That's almost an entire day of each week spent on social media!

Spending that much time on social media robs us of valuable time we could be spending with our loved ones or doing other important things, like exercising. Unfortunately, we get so worried that we'll miss something important on social media that we end up returning over and over again.

In the process, we lose sleep. Our self-esteem suffers because we're constantly comparing ourselves to others. Online discussions turn into confrontations that can affect our personal and work relationships.

So how do we counteract these trends? Unplug! Enjoy social media sparingly. Set priorities and usage limits and stick with them. Enjoy conversations with the people around you and give them your full attention when they speak. Your physical and mental health may benefit from it!

Wonder What's Next?

Better bring your shovel with you to Wonderopolis tomorrow!