Social Media Addiction
By Lauren Lubin
It’s no secret that the world of social media is constantly growing and slowly taking over the minds of young people. Sadly, most of these young adults don’t understand or even notice the negative effects social media has on their daily lives.
The social media craze began in 1997 with a social networking website called Six Degrees, along with the slow development of blogging websites. These were the first technological advancements, allowing individuals to easily communicate with people along with making new friends, all without leaving the house.
The addiction to social media really began with the creation of Facebook in 2004. Business Insider reported that Facebook is still the most popular among the addictive social media sites today, but there have been many other apps and websites to increase the problem.
Lily Raabe, senior at Novato High, spoke about her views on the overall effect social media addiction has on a person.
“I think social media has had negative and positive effects, but overall it’s been negative,” Raabe said. “You always think you’re missing out on things that you aren’t and people use it to highlight their lives. Nobody is really that happy or has that perfect of a life, but social media creates an image that makes it seem like everyone has everything together and is living their best life besides you, which isn’t true. It’s a little isolating and depressing but it’s also a cool modern form of self expression and connection with people that contributes to how we interact with each other overall.”
A 2015 Common Sense Media (a non-profit group) study published in the Washington Post claims that average screen time for teenagers is nearly nine hours per day. With the astounding growth of social media, average screen time could be making a steady increase among teenagers nowadays.
Karina Spalding, a senior at Novato High, discussed how apps have affected her and what she has done to prevent their impact.
“Social media has made me more anxious on how I need to portray myself to the world and how I should present myself,” Spalding said. “Recently, I have been taking precautions on making myself log out of social media accounts, such as Snapchat and Facebook, because they are very notification ridden.”
Many young adults and children, unlike Spalding, don’t fully understand the negative impacts social media has on a person's mental health. Although all social media accounts can influence addiction and mental health issues, Instagram has the biggest impact on teenage health due to the increase of cyber bullying.
The Royal Society for Public Health reports that rates of anxiety and depression have increased by 70% in the past 25 years. According to an India Today article by Priya Pathak, “social media is more addictive than alcohol, Instagram is the worst.” Social media use can also cause sleeping disorders and increases the risk of bullying. In this article, Pathak mainly focuses on Instagram, a popular photo-sharing app.
“Some have even alleged the app encourages body shaming, saying that filters and photo-editing options, often to tend to blur the gap between real and reel life, especially among females,” Pathak writes. “One respondent even said that bullying on Instagram caused severe ‘depressive episodes and anxiety’ and even compelled her to attempt suicide.”
When talking about this addiction, it is not only the interest in other people's lives that causes us to constantly check our phone; it’s the notifications that grab our attention.
According to New York University professor Adam Alter, “when someone likes an Instagram post or any content that you share, it’s a little bit like taking a drug. As far as your brain is concerned it’s a very similar experience. Now the reason why is because it’s not guaranteed that you’re going to get likes on your posts. And it’s the unpredictability of that process that makes it so addictive.”
Although social media presents an issue, it’s not going away. With this awareness, it’s important for teenagers and adults to recognize the problems and how it will affect them personally. The best strategy to control this addiction is to limit every day screen time; giving your brain, eyes, and emotions a rest just for an hour or so a day. Some ideas to keep yourself distracted could be reading a book or enjoying time with friends or family. Coloring books are always fun, and even simply finding new music can be a great diversion.
“My advice to someone younger is don’t get too caught up in the hype that is talking to others in the world,” Spalding said. “Remember that people exist outside the devices.”