The University of Pittsburgh found a correlation between time spent scrolling through social media apps and negative body image feedback. Those who had spent more time on social media had over twice the risk of reporting eating and body image concerns when compared to their peers who spent less time on social media.
Everything from physical appearance to life circumstances to perceived successes are scrutinized and processed by users. The need to gain likes on social media can cause teens to not only alter their appearance but also to make choices they would otherwise not make, including accepting risky social media challenges and engaging in negative behaviors.
Unfortunately, competition for attention and likes can even lead to online bullying. Name-calling, rumor-spreading, and harassment among adolescents has always happened, but social media presents young users more opportunities to do so than ever before. This is especially true for teenage girls who are at particular risk for cyberbullying through use of social media; and by the way, boys are not immune.
And did you know that almost 25% of teens say they have been sent explicit images they didn’t ask for, while seven percent say someone has shared explicit images of them without their consent. This type of abuse, along with other forms of cyberbullying, has unfortunately led to increased suicide rates among young adults.
So how can you recognize social media addiction in your own family?
To determine if someone is at risk of developing an addiction to social media, ask these six questions:
– Do they spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
– Do they feel urges to use social media more and more?
– Do they use social media to forget about personal problems?
– Do they often try to reduce use of social media without success?
– Do they become restless or troubled if unable to use social media?
– Do they use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on their job or studies?
A yes to more than three of these questions may indicate the presence of a social media addiction.
What’s the solution? A digital detox, a period of time during which someone significantly reduces the time spent using electronic devices such a smartphones or computers, could be a wise precaution. This can include simple steps, such as turning off sound notifications and only checking social media sites once an hour.
Other changes can include having periods in the day where there is self-imposed non-screen time, such as during mealtimes, or leaving the phone in a separate room at night so as not to disturb sleep. This allows for a restored focus on social interaction in the physical world and reduces dependency on networking sites.