Cure for Social Media Addiction

Hunter Howell, Guest Writer

Did you know that 50% of teens feel addicted to their cell phones? That’s the finding of a 2016 study by Common Sense Media, and it is likely the percentage has gone up in the past five years. Social media addiction is a major issue in today’s world, especially in kids younger than 12, according to the Wellesley Center for Women. Teenagers use apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Tiktok to peek into their friend’s lives and share their own. Although there are some benefits to these apps that allow teens to escape the problems of the real world and visit a virtual one, social media restricts teens from socializing, negatively affects the brain, and causes a decrease in the overall satisfaction with life. 

During early teenage years, socializing and developing relationships are vital. Without a firm foundation for these skills, teens will struggle throughout high school. When I was in middle school, I noticed most kids were always on their phones. Whether taking photos, watching videos, or scrolling through their favorite apps, they could not put their phone down. Now in high school, I see them struggle to socialize and struggle in the classroom. Even when teenagers partake in a “fun activity” they end up spending more time taking photos of themselves doing the “fun activity.” They do this for likes and comments, as well as to make their lives seem more glamorous than they actually are. If teenagers didn’t have access to these devices or apps, they would learn to enjoy the moment and talk to one another.

Taking part in social media can mess with teenagers’ brains. A study done in 2016 by the UCLA Brain Mapping Center shows that when a teenager receives a like on a post, the same part of the brain is activated that would have been if they won the lottery or eaten their favorite food. This feeling creates a type of high. A study done in March by the University of Georgia shows that a similar high is produced when cyberbullying. After the initial high, teens want to feel it again, so they post and cyberbully on social media more often. If teens can’t get this feeling enough, they may turn to drugs and alcohol, which give similar sensations. This is especially bad if they are young, as they aren’t mature enough to make a good decision and have more time to completely spiral out of control. This one addiction can easily lead to new and more harmful addictions. 

Another reason young teens should not have access to social media is that it may lead to a decrease in the overall satisfaction of a teenager’s life. Studies have shown that when a teen shows off on social media, they reduce their self-esteem. A four-year study completed in 2020 by the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry found that an increase in screen time can lead to an increase in anxiety and depression among teenagers. Social media apps have led to other symptoms of many disorders as well. This includes eating disorders, self-harming behaviors, and substance abuse. These usually stem from use of social media early in a teen’s life, and can affect teens’ lives forever. Luckily, there are many ways to treat this addiction. Parents can limit their teen’s time on social media, talk openly to them, and encourage them. Teens can use various forms of treatment, but the simplest, most effective, and easiest way to reduce this issue is to stop letting young teens use social media. 

Social media addiction is a growing problem that keeps on getting worse. Often, this addiction starts at a young age, typically when teens get their first phone, between 12 and 13 years old. Although social media can be used in a few positive ways, like maintaining friendships, exploring interests, or developing relationships with family, it also restricts social interaction, messes with the brain, and leads to low self-esteem. For these reasons, young teens should not be allowed to use social media.