Vietnam News

Social media addiction stalks Vietnam

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Nguyen Thuy Trang has a habit of pulling out her phone to check and reply to messages on social media while stopping at traffic signals.

The 27-year-old in Hanoi’s Hoang Mai District often ends up spending twice as much time on the road as other people.

“If other people can reach a destination in 15 minutes I may need 30,” she admits.

Her phone virtually never leaves her hand. She explains she is fearful of “missing out on important information”.

But she is hardly the only one to develop this kind of obsession with social media.

Dr Nguyen Do Hong Nhung, a psychologist and lecturer at the Thai Nguyen University of Education, says about Nga and other like her: “These people have typical signs of social media addiction like using these apps excessively and experiencing discomfort and anxiety when trying to reduce usage time”.

Experts think that in Vietnam this kind of dependence on social media is very common.

According to the Digital 2021 report published by U.K.- digital advertising company We Are Social, Vietnam has some 72 million social network users, or more than 73 percent of the country’s population.

People aged 25-34 and 18-24 are the two demographics that use social media the most.

“In a coffee shop, we will see young people burying their face into their phones all day without interacting directly with each other,” psychologist Dr Dinh Thi Minh Chau says.

Digital 2021 also noted that Vietnamese use the Internet for an average of 6 hours 47 minutes daily, including 2 hours and 21 minutes on social media.

For people addicted to social media like Nga and Trang, the daily access time can go up to five or six hours.

“Before going to bed, I have to surf the Internet for at least an hour,” Trang admits.

This phenomenon is not new. A 2017 report titled Psychological Impact of Social Networks on User Psychology published by the Hanoi University of Social Sciences and Humanities said 20 percent of Vietnamese spent more than three hours a day on social networks and 54 percent spent more than an hour, 39 percent were very upset if social media was shut down, 37 percent said it was an important part of their life and 35 percent were upset and lost if they could not access it for one or two days.

When conducting an experiment that involved spending 72 hours without social media, more than 43 percent of participants broke their commitment within the first six hours.

Common emotional states participants reported were feeling a loss of connection with friends, fear they would miss out on what was trending or going on online and a feeling of anxiety.

Social media dependence is just the beginning of many mental problems, U.S.-based therapist and psychiatrist, Nguyen Huong Linh, says.

“People who cannot get away from social networks often have many mental problems.

“They look to the virtual world to avoid these difficulties and on the other hand to show people online that they are fine”.

Dependence on social networks shows that young people do not have many tools to deal with their problems and resort to the cheapest and most accessible way to escape real-life problems, she says.

It is also a manifestation of those feeling disconnected from their parents or isolated at school.

When they want to forget their problems, people immediately “reach for their phones”, she says.

Echoing Linh’s opinion, Chau says people addicted to social media often “feel vulnerable”.

“For them, social networks become a place to hide from their problems”.

Nguyen Hoai Nam, 22, is one such person. He has not lived with his parents since childhood, has few friends, and was bullied at school, and social media is a consolation. On his personal page, the student living in France posts carefully edited travel photos to attract as many ‘likes’ as possible.

The frequency of uploading depends on how he feels at a particular time. “The sadder I feel, the more I post”.

For Nga, the fact that others liked her child’s photos and congratulated her gave her a feeling of recognition.

Trang feels her presence “matters” when she is the one who knows the latest hot topics online among her group of friends.

Experts say the number of people who seek help to treat addiction to social networks is quite small, but this does not mean it is not a problem.

Unlike addiction to alcohol or shopping, social media dependence is not condemned and its consequences are difficult to see immediately, but experts say it does have a big impact on the physiology and psychology of individuals and on society.

Chau says if “addicted”, people become lazy and sluggish, struggle to focus on other things and even ignore their other basic needs.

For instance, Trang is ready to reduce her sleep and spend more time on “keeping up with the latest news and trends”.

It also causes stress and anxiety.

“If I don’t get a certain number of ‘likes’, I am very sad because I think I am not doing well enough,” Nam says.

He considers it a measure of his success and other people’s regard for him.

Social networks have affected the mental health of Nguyen Ngoc Nha, 30, of Bac Tu Liem District, who envies other people online and loses self-esteem.

“Watching my friends shop for luxury goods, I feel jealous,” the office worker admits.

Nha was also sad because a friend delivered a child at the same time as her, but recovered faster, had enough money to employ a help and got more free time to hang out with friends.

Social media dependence also worsens human connections, because the more they are dependent on the Internet, the more they are addicted and the more they withdraw from the real world and lose communication skills.

The report Psychological Impact of Social Networks on User Psychology found that the number of friends online is directly proportionate to the level of loneliness, anxiety and depression and inversely proportionate to the level of satisfaction with life.

Linh says: “The need for sympathy, validation and recognition is legitimate and necessary. But we also need to learn how to seek them through traditional methods the way we did before social networks were created”.

Experts further note that dependence is not only found in young people but also middle-aged and senior people.

Despite knowing the consequences, it is not easy to change one’s habits related to the use of social media.

Nam thinks he “sooner or later has to find a way to express himself differently” and has set a goal of only spending two hours a day online instead of the earlier five hours.

Nha chooses to ‘unfollow’ all accounts that make her lose self-esteem. In her free time, she plays with her children and learns about business operations to help accomplish her plan to open a cafe.

Trang is trying not to browse at night because her health has been affected.

Nga admits reducing her dependence on social networks will be a struggle.

“Without it, I might die”.

By Minh Trang – – November 1, 2021

Translate / Dịch

En poursuivant la visite de ce site, vous acceptez l’utilisation de traceurs (cookies) vous permettant juste d'optimiser techniquement votre navigation. Plus d’informations

En poursuivant la visite de ce site, vous acceptez l’utilisation de traceurs (cookies) vous permettant d'optimiser techniquement votre navigation. Aucune information sur votre utilisation de ce site ne sera partagée auprès de quelconques médias sociaux, de sociétés commerciales ou d'agences de publicité et d'analyse. Cliquer sur le bouton "Accepter", équivaut à votre consentement.