A monumental cultural shift has taken place in recent years, sweeping the globe and imprinting new norms in our daily lives. The ritual of scrolling through social media feeds has become a ubiquitous part of our routine, especially among adolescents.
This shift in how we receive information and how often we receive it, however, has brought with it a concerning impact on the well-being of our youth. Our blog at Integrative Health Services of Birmingham talks often about the developing phenomenon of social media addiction in teens, so we can all better understand this problem as it evolves.
As our younger generation becomes more immersed in social media, their social behaviors, relationships, and academic performance appear to be caught in its tide. Social media addiction is no vague concept; it’s a well-defined behavioral pattern that has gained recognition. This affliction is characterized by an overpowering preoccupation with social media, an insurmountable urge to log in or engage, and an expenditure of time and effort that impairs other crucial aspects of life. The question arises: What propels teens down this rabbit hole of addiction?
Recent research has investigated the potential consequences of habitual social media use, and the findings are far from trivial. The emergence of behavioral addiction due to excessive social media consumption has sparked a wave of alarm, particularly when it comes to its impact on adolescents. A study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information within the National Library of Medicine found in 2022 that social media addiction, and being influenced by social media influencers, are directly associated with Social Appearance Anxiety and pose a risk to teen mental health (The Contribution of Social Media Addiction to Adolescent Life: Social Appearance Anxiety; June 6, 2022). The trend is particularly seen in teen girls who perceive their family income as low compared to their peers and who think they are influenced by social media influencers.
A Perfect Storm – Linking Social Media Addiction to Teen Suicide
Multiple threads weave the fabric of social media addiction, with contributors ranging from low self-esteem and personal dissatisfaction to depression, hyperactivity, and even the craving for affection. The quest to replace emotional deficiencies with digital interactions, manifesting as Likes, Shares, Followers, and Comments, stands as a potential root cause. An intense need for the positive feelings that perceived success in social media creates for troubled young people develops over time, giving addiction to the social media platform a foothold in your child’s vulnerabilities.
One of the reasons that professionals and parents are so concerned about social media addiction and obsession are that the same factors that contribute to social media addiction are also interwoven with the fabric of teen suicide. The coexistence of low self-esteem, personal dissatisfaction, hyperactivity, and lack of affection is a precarious blend that transcends into both areas. This represents a troubling situation for parents, and one more thing to add to the long list of things that they have to have anxiety about regarding their growing teenagers.
Engaging with Social Media and Mood Shifts
A telltale sign that warrants our attention becomes apparent when the emotions of an individual swings dramatically in response to their interactions on social media platforms. These platforms, designed to evoke various emotional responses through posts, comments, and interactions, can set off an emotional whirlwind that ranges from moments of elation to bouts of anger or frustration. Such pronounced mood shifts signify more than a passing engagement; they hint at a deeper psychological connection that has been formed, a behavioral, cognitive, and emotional fixation on the digital realm.
When social media begins to hold the power to dictate our emotional states, it raises concerns about the extent to which these platforms have infiltrated our psyche. Adolescents and even adults might find themselves at the mercy of notifications, comments, and likes, experiencing momentary highs or lows as if their emotional equilibrium depended on virtual validation. This phenomenon highlights the intricate interplay between the online and offline worlds, with emotional fluctuations on one end impacting the mental landscape on the other.
Perhaps most concerning is the persistence of this pattern despite the rollercoaster of emotions it triggers. If an individual consistently returns to social media despite mood swings, if the emotional pendulum doesn’t deter them but rather seems to intensify their usage, it could be indicative of a burgeoning issue. These types of behaviors and responses suggests a deep-seated need for engagement that is steering one towards potential addiction. This holds true for teens as well as adults.
Self-Reflection – Are You Obsessed with Social Media?
Pause and consider these questions – they reveal the shadows of addiction. Do you find your thoughts revolving around social media incessantly? Are the urges to use it escalating uncontrollably? Is social media an escape from personal problems? Do attempts to curb its use yield no success? Does the absence of social media stir restlessness within you? Has it compromised your work or studies?
Social media platforms wield an undeniable power over our minds, driven by a potent force – dopamine. These platforms, meticulously engineered, are structured to trigger the brain’s reward system, releasing the euphoric “feel-good” chemical upon each interaction. A cycle of motivation, reward, and reinforcement ensues, akin to processes seen with addictive substances and behaviors. The chase for the next dopamine hit keeps the cycle spinning.
Evolving Notions on Social Media Addiction
Formal considerations regarding social media addiction remain in flux, and the realm of experts resonates with ongoing debates about classification and diagnostic criteria. Integrative Health Services underscores the need for continued research to unearth the depths of excessive social media use’s impact on mental health and well-being in adolescents and adults alike.
In the meantime, we’re here to help with issues that you face with providing guidance of any type to the teens and children in your household. Call us or email us today to start addressing your concerns with experienced professionals.
How to Get Help for Social Media Addiction in Alabama
Integrative Health Services, LLC is dedicated to providing expert counseling services in the Birmingham area. With a collective experience of over 60 years, our team of licensed counselors and clinical social worker brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to every client we serve. Our reputation as trusted professionals extends far and wide, as we come highly recommended by respected clinicians, lawyers, and physicians within our community.
We are available via telehealth virtual appointments throughout Alabama and have office locations in both the northern and southern areas of Birmingham in Pelham and Gardendale.