How often do you find your child engrossed in their smartphone? Probably quite frequently.
It’s no longer a mystery that social media has become a captivating force for teenagers in the United States, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
A research paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shed light on the fact that teenagers who spend more than three hours a day on social media are more susceptible to mental health issues. In addition, numerous scientists are now recognizing social media addiction as a new behavioral disorder and teenagers are the most vulnerable group.
According to a report by Common Sense Media, a staggering 62% of teenagers use social media daily, with an average of 1 hour and 27 minutes spent scrolling through their feeds. This growing trend is deeply concerning and requires immediate attention.
Recognizing the urgency of the matter, the US Government has taken decisive action to combat this issue. A proposal has been put forth in the US Senate, advocating for the establishment of a national age limit for social media usage. This proposal aims to effectively ban individuals aged 12 and below from accessing these apps.
The Impact of Social Media Addiction On Teens
Several surveys conducted among US adolescents have revealed a concerning rise in depressive symptoms and suicide rates from 2010 to 2015, with females being particularly affected. One plausible explanation put forward by researchers is the surge in social media usage and overall screen time during that period, which could be contributing to these alarming trends. The surveys indicate that teenagers who dedicated more time to social media platforms were more prone to experiencing mental health problems.
- Adverse Effects on Social Life
Excessive reliance on social media has been shown to have a detrimental impact on social lives. This addiction can contribute to increased feelings of depression and anxiety among individuals, especially adolescents. Moreover, young people may engage in unrealistic relationships, seek validation through likes and comments, and become susceptible to online bullying.
Shockingly, according to a survey conducted by Pew, 60 percent of teens claim to spend time with their friends online daily, and only 24 percent meet up with their friends in person as frequently. These social media statistics underscore how online connections often fail to translate into meaningful real-life relationships.
2. Increases body image issues
The issue of body image is a significant concern, affecting not only teenage girls but individuals of all genders. Teenagers often experience negative emotions when they compare themselves to meticulously crafted and edited images of their peers and celebrities. This constant comparison can result in diminished self-esteem and an unhealthy perception of their bodies.
According to a survey conducted by Common Sense Media, the following distressing statistics were revealed:
- 35 percent of teenagers using social media express concerns about being tagged in unflattering photos.
- 27 percent experience stress over their appearance when sharing pictures.
- 22 percent feel a sense of self-worth decline when their photos receive no comments or “likes.”
These findings shed light on the profound impact that social media can have on the mental well-being of teenagers, particularly regarding body image and self-perception.
3. Danagrous health routines
Social media also serves as a platform where teenagers can inadvertently encourage one another in engaging in unhealthy and dangerous behaviors. For instance, individuals struggling with eating disorders or self-harm may find solace in connecting with others who share similar experiences and discuss their self-destructive routines. Unfortunately, these online forums often perpetuate harmful practices such as obsessive calorie counting, fasting, or excessive exercise, normalizing and even promoting these behaviors.
4. Time management challenges
It can also pose challenges to effective time management. The seemingly endless scrolling through newsfeeds or browsing others’ profiles can consume hours without one even realizing it.
Despite acknowledging the negative impacts of social media addiction, it is important to recognize its positive aspects. Social media platforms provide unmatched opportunities for global social connections, reducing isolation and fostering a sense of community. They serve as powerful tools for information dissemination, raising awareness about social issues, and giving people a voice for advocacy.
The Indicators of social media addiction in Teens
Social media has become a means for individuals to stay in touch with long-lost friends and family. However, when a teenager’s internet use becomes compulsive, it may be an indication of developing social media addiction.
It is important to note that being on social media does not automatically equate to addiction. However, if your kid exhibits the following signs, it may be necessary to have them evaluated by a specialist for social media addiction:
- Your teen may experience guilt or anxiety if they fail to actively participate on social media platforms.
- You see an increased level of distress when he or she is unable to access social media.
- Be concerned if you find them prioritizing their online image or persona over fostering relationships with those around them.
- The kid may, constantly feel the need to be online.
- He might resort to lying or sneaking around to conceal the extent of their social media activities.
- They experience feelings of depression or sadness when they are unable to access social media platforms.
- Withdrawing from others to spend more time on social media: Isolating themselves from real-life interactions to dedicate more time to social media.
- He or she may disagree to do schoolwork or household chores because they are consumed by their social media activities.
- Getting irritable or frustrated when faced with restrictions.
- Reacting negatively or defensively when questioned about their excessive use of social media.
Physical signs of social media addiction can also manifest, including constant headaches, back pain, weight fluctuations, carpal tunnel syndrome, and sleep issues. If you observe several of these signs, you should seek professional guidance to address their social media addiction and promote balanced usage.
How SEL Can Help Reduce Social Media Addiction In adolescents
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) can play a crucial role in helping to decrease social media addiction among adolescents. Here are some ways in which SEL can be beneficial:
1. Helps to develop self-awareness
SEL programs help adolescents develop self-consciousness by understanding their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. This awareness allows them to recognize when their social media use becomes excessive or unhealthy, enabling them to take steps to address the addiction.
2. Strengthens their self-regulation skills
The curriculum teaches teens effective self-acting strategies to manage their emotions, impulses, and behaviors. These skills can help them resist the urge to constantly check social media notifications or spend excessive time online.
3. Improves their collaboration abilities
As it focuses on improving relationship skills such as empathy, communication, and conflict resolution, the kids learn to build meaningful connections and seek support.
4. Promotes responsible decision-making
Social-emotional education emphasizes the development of critical thinking skills. Teenagers are trained to make thoughtful choices about their social media use, considering the potential consequences.
5. Fosters resilience and coping skills
The SEL classes teach adolescents how to cope with stress, setbacks, and challenges effectively. By developing resilience, adolescents can manage the pressures and influences of social media.
6. Provides support and guidance
The sessions create a supportive environment where youngsters feel comfortable discussing their struggles and seeking guidance from trusted adults.
Educators, parents, and mentors can play a significant role in recognizing the signs of social media addiction and providing appropriate intervention. SEL equips them with the tools to navigate the digital world responsibly, prioritize their well-being, and establish a healthy balance between their online and offline lives.
TomoClub is a game-based social and emotional learning curriculum platform. Our program has proven to be immensely beneficial in increasing student attendance, addressing mental health concerns, and reducing behavioral issues. Click on this link to book a meeting with us.
Fostering a positive environment at home and in schools is essential in addressing social media addiction. The guardians and teachers need to be aware of the signs of addiction, provide guidance, and create opportunities for open discussions.