Social media addiction in South Mississippi

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - In the past few years, social media has become big business across the world. Social Media influences people of all ages, backgrounds, and genders to connect with this method of communication and personal expression. But when does the phenomenon become an addiction?

To get to the heart of those on social media, WLOX flipped through the pages of several people on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and  Twitter and came out with a list of the top three people who actually confessed to WLOX that they are addicted. But nothing could prepare them for the challenge they were about to be presented.

Patrice Pickett Greene is a songstress and exercise instructor. Then there's Gordon Ross. The father and husband is industrial worker in Jackson County. Leshaunda Randle lives in Gautier and is a proud mother and wife. The three may be from totally different worlds, but they have a social media obsession they're not ashamed to admit.

"My family calls me the queen of Facebook," Green said.

Green and her brother actually boosted business at Phases Fitness Center in Pascagoula using Facebook.

"I actually made Phases a reality show. A lot of people get to see their friends and family, and the come along and they decided they can do this, too."

She said those Facebook postings soon went from business to personal. Now, six hours of her day is devoted to social networking.

"Yes, it is very addictive. Everything I do is almost on Facebook. If I go out to eat with my boyfriend, go out to church, and if I go to Phases, it is definitely on Facebook."

Ross said he is also an addict. He spends at least four hours a week online and even more time on the weekends.

"It is a lot more, about six. It is not that you mean to, but as soon as you check the last four things you haven't seen before, there are three more new ones. So you got to check them," said Ross about social networking.

While Ross gets his social media fix, everything from chores to his family are sometimes being neglected.

"It has caused a problem between me and my wife; sometimes she feels neglected."

Leshaunda Randle can't even shop without checking all her social media sites every day, all day.

"I am on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I think that is it?  No, I am not on Pinterest yet. Heard about, but not on there yet," Randle said.

Randle said most of her time online is spent scrolling through news feeds, posting, and tweeting friends, family even celebrities.

"Some of my friends say I am addicted to Facebook because I am on there and I don't sleep all night, so some times they will see me on there like 2 o'clock in the morning," Randle said. "I am active in my community and in my church and different organizations, so I kind of keep everybody up-to-date on what is going on."

Yes, social media can be an entertaining an avenue to connect with people all over the world,  but Singing River Health System lead counselor Wendi Wood said many experts are convinced too much of anything can be compulsive.

"It can be alcohol or drugs, but some people consider social media as an addiction. Others argue that it is the modern day communication. They would say a decade or so ago we had teenager on the phone all the time and we didn't call that an addiction," Wood said. "However, when it conflicts with the normal functions of your daily life it does become a problem. Whether you want to consider it an addiction or not, it can disrupt your life."

So, back to our challenge: Could our new friends give up all social media cold turkey? Let's just say the idea didn't sit too well with them at first.

"I am hyperventilating; please don't say what I think you about to say," said Green.

Finally, after much convincing they did accept.

"Okay. I can do this," Randle said.

"I can accept that because I think it will be good for me," Ross said.

Tuesday night on WLOX News at 10pm, you'll find out how they did with the challenge, and hear from experts on how folks can break the social media addiction.

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