Symptoms of Media Addicts Anonymous International

We of Media Addicts Anonymous International view media addiction as an illness similar to alcoholism. Like drugs and alcohol, media addiction is both a physical and mental disease. The over-use of media destabilizes the prefrontal area of our brains. This is the area responsible for remembering details, planning, and prioritizing tasks. When we compulsively use media, our frontal lobes go "off-line," weakening our ability to stop using media when we need to move on or go to bed. Media also affects the pleasure center of the brain triggering a release of dopamine. Like drug addiction, more and more media is needed to induce the same pleasurable dopamine hit, eventually creating a dependency. Because of these two mental and physical  responses, media addicts have little or no defense against the first click. Therefore we see media as a mind altering and mood altering drug. Media becomes our dopamine high or our dope.

The Signs and Symptoms of Media Addiction


  1. Dissatisfaction with everyday life—We have a compulsive need to alter our mood with media. We depend on media for daily relief from pain and problems. It is our main source of relaxation, recreation, and reward. We feel a pervasive sense of boredom and emptiness when not actively using.

  2. Time irreverence—We become distracted from our daily goals once we turn on our electronic media. Media then takes priority over everything else. We may binge, graze, or spend hours surfing the net, losing track of time and connection with what's really important to us.

  3. Exhibiting risky behavior—We are willing to endanger our health, our life, or someone else's life so we can get our media fix. For example, texting or watching videos while driving, overeating while binging on media, avoiding exercise to stay online, or chronically depriving ourselves of sleep.

  4. Mental obsession— We become uncomfortable or edgy if we don't have our devices with us at all times. We are preoccupied throughout the day with thoughts of what might be in the news, on social media, or on television. We believe we are missing out if we are not constantly living through media. We feel irritated if someone tries to interrupt our programs or games. Over time, media is all we want and all we think about getting.

  5. Isolation— We prefer to stay indoors watching media or playing video games rather than being out in nature or socializing with real people. Even when we are with other people we may find ourselves getting lost in our devices instead of interacting with those around us. Media is something we turn to that we think will make us feel better, but it ends up making us feel lonely and remorseful in the end.

  6. Compare and despair—We use media to compare ourselves with others online or try to create a persona that people will like and respect, but end up feeling despair when we can't live up to those ideals.

  7. Avoidance of work and inability to plan and prioritize tasks— we jeopardize the success of our businesses, jobs, schoolwork, and life goals by using media to procrastinate doing what must be done.  We repeatedly use our available time to consume media, then find ourselves facing multiple crises caused by lack of planning and poor time management. As soon as we get out of our immediate crisis, we go back to binging on media, which will inevitably cause more problems in the future.

  8. Obsession with fantasy—Rather than connecting with live people, we turn to media to satisfy our need for romance and sexual fantasy and end up feeling disconnected and more lonely than before. We lose the ability to have relationships with real people because media produces unrealistic expectations and discontentment with self and others. In this way, we live only through what we experience on our media.

  9. Depression, shame, and dishonesty—We feel depressed and shameful and even lie about the amount of media we are consuming. We have said to ourselves, "I don't want to live this way anymore," but don't know how we would live without our electronic media. Some of us have had suicidal thoughts about this despair.

  10. Disconnection from our bodies and nature—We have become disconnected from our bodies and the natural world. We fail to meet our body’s basic needs for rest, sleep, exercise, good nutrition, etc. We avoid the natural world and our need to fully enjoy and experience all of our senses.

  11. Withdrawal and inability to stop when we want to—We have been unable to stop using electronic media on our own. If we have managed to stop using media for a period of time, we experience withdrawal symptoms such as moodiness, cravings, or agitation. If we give in and return to our alcoholic media, we find it even harder to try to stop again.

  12. Physical ailments—With prolonged use of media we experience backache, neck pain, headaches, disturbances in sleep, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as vision problems such as blurred or strained vision and dry eyes.