Social Media Addiction
Social media addiction has become a significant problem for teens and children. Social media companies have designed their social networking platforms to be addictive. Thus, it is very common for today’s young people to develop bad habits. Unfortunately, social media addiction can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and poor body image. Find out how our social media addiction lawyers can help.
What You’ll Learn
- What is Social Media Addiction?
- When Did Social Media Addiction Start?
- How Many Teens Are Addicted to Social Media?
- Why Is Social Media Addictive?
- Why Is Social Media Addiction a Problem?
- Who Is Most at Risk of Developing a Social Media Addiction?
- How to Recognize the Signs of Social Media Addiction
- How to Help Someone Overcome Social Media Addiction
- Treatment for Social Media Addiction
- Get Legal Help with Social Media Addiction
Studies are proving time and again that the overuse of social media has negative consequences for people of all ages—but especially for young people. Social platforms have been designed to activate the brain’s reward centers, which can lead to overdependence and addiction.
When your teen or child exhibits symptoms of social media addiction, there may be legal options you can take. Reach out to one of our social media addiction attorneys today for an evaluation of your case.
Is your child addicted to social media? An attorney can help you understand your legal options.
What is Social Media Addiction?
Social media addiction is the constant need to engage with social platforms despite consequences such as self-confidence issues, depression, anxiety, and other potentially long-term mental health effects.
Social media addiction is not something to be taken lightly. One study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that individuals can indeed become addicted to social networking sites.
Social media addiction has many of the same characteristics as substance abuse addictions. Health care experts continue to warn people against the dangers of social media. The Surgeon General recently issued an advisory about the effect social media has on young people’s mental health. Celebrities are also warning of the risks—actress Jennifer Garner said, “I just said to my kids, show me the articles that prove that social media is good for teenagers, and then we’ll have the conversation.”
When Did Social Media Addiction Start?
Social networking sites first appeared in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Sixdegrees.com was one of the first, followed by sites like Friendster and Myspace. Facebook started in 2004, and LinkedIn, Reddit, and YouTube soon followed, with Twitter arriving on the scene in 2006.
Social media usage only continues to grow. It’s estimated that in 2023, there will be around 4.89 billion social media users globally, with that number expected to reach 5.85 billion by 2027.
As social media continued to gain mainstream traction, more young people joined the platforms with anywhere internet access. Everyone had a smartphone in their pocket, so addiction started to become commonplace by the mid-2000s.
How Many Teens Are Addicted to Social Media?
Social media has become known for its addictive qualities. Pew Research found that over a third of U.S. teens say they spend too much time on social media, and the majority of teens who report using social media almost constantly say it would be hard to give up the platforms. In the past, Facebook has even admitted in internal documents that its social media app has negatively impacted 360 million users.
It is becoming clear that social media addiction affects millions of people worldwide. Risks to mental health and well-being cannot be overlooked, especially for young people who may be more easily influenced by what they see and do online.
Why Is Social Media Addictive?
Social networking addiction doesn’t just happen. In fact, sites are designed to be addictive. The platforms are developed to trigger dopamine releases from the brain. For example, when a post gets a “like,” the poster receives a dopamine hit. Users want to continue getting that feeling, so they post more. The same process applies to increasing the number of followers.
We all respond to this intrinsic reward system. It’s this process that causes social media addiction. We start craving rewards that give us pleasure, and those cravings become stronger and stronger until it’s hard for us to control our impulses. Even with negative consequences, we keep doing it.
Creators of social media platforms consider these factors when creating their algorithms and systems for online interactions. They count on users continuing to come back for more to get those hits of dopamine.
Why Is Social Media Addiction a Problem?
Scrolling through social media is seemingly innocuous, but it can become a bad habit that makes people feel poorly about themselves. They start to compare themselves to others, or they can’t stop scrolling, even when they need to do something else.
Suppose a young person is self-conscious about their weight. When they see thin people online portrayed as the ideal of beauty, it might exacerbate their negative feelings. Or suppose a teenager wasn’t invited to a friend’s birthday party. If she sees everyone else enjoying the party on someone else’s Instagram page, this can trigger FOMO, or fear of missing out. Such responses can cause stress, anxiety, distress, and depression.
A social media problem can also impact physical health. The act of scrolling is addictive itself, like the act of smoking a cigarette. It may make people less mobile since they spend hours sitting and looking at a smartphone. It fosters an environment where young people constantly compare themselves to others, especially their appearance, so feelings of inadequacy could lead to eating disorders that impact their physical well-being.
Here are specific ways social media addiction can impact mental health:
- Low self-esteem
- Neglecting real-world relationships
- Body image issues
- Eating disorders
Don’t ignore the effects of social media addiction. Becoming aware of them is the first step to overcoming the addiction and getting help.
Who Is Most at Risk of Developing a Social Media Addiction?
Social media platforms now attract people from all age groups and walks of life. Unfortunately, young people are often the most at risk of developing social media addiction.
In adolescence, we’re not yet adults, and we’re no longer children. We start to become more independent, and we care more about what our peers think. We seek a strong sense of belonging and acceptance at this age. This is why social media addiction in teens is so common.
Teens are very sensitive to rejection and are impulsive. They use social media to reassure themselves and connect with others, but it can also lead to even more stress when they have FOMO or low self-esteem. All of this impacts brain activity and development.
The following factors can influence how likely a teen is to develop an addiction:
Both introverts and extroverts can become addicted – the former because they’re feeling isolated and seeking connection, and the latter because they generally have more social connections and stay active online.
How to Recognize the Signs of Social Media Addiction
Here are the most common social media addiction signs to watch for:
- Excessive hours spent on social media platforms
- Spending less time with friends or family
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Exhibiting poor work or school performance
- Oversharing personal details
- Being unable to detach from their smartphone or computer
- Feelings of intense anxiety when not using social media
How to Help Someone Overcome Social Media Addiction
Knowing the warning signs is the first step in overcoming an addiction to social media. Then, you can act as a support and resource for those struggling with it. Here are ways to help someone who is dealing with addictive social media use:
- Try a digital detox, where they can enjoy nature or other people’s company and completely disconnect from electronic devices.
- Replace social media with a new hobby or activity, such as physical exercise or gardening.
- List the benefits they get from social media versus the downsides.
- Create a plan for when they get the impulse to scroll social media, such as going for a walk or calling a friend instead.
Encourage the person to take time away from their devices and regroup. Focusing on the negative consequences of social media can also help.
Treatment For Social Media Addiction
Fortunately, parents can now provide their teens with proper treatment for social media addiction. In many cases, your teen will need intervention beyond what you can provide at home.
There are multiple forms of therapy that can help your child in cases of internet addiction. Some of them include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Group therapy
- Online therapy
With these therapies, your teens can learn to set new goals and build healthier habits, which will reduce their cravings and obsessions with social media.
Get Legal Help with Social Media Addiction
You are not alone if you or a loved one is dealing with a social media addiction. Unfortunately, platforms are designed to encourage addictive usage. This is why parents are now filing social media addiction lawsuits on behalf of their children and teens.
Our team is here to help if an addiction to social media has harmed your teen or child. Contact us now to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions
For individuals and children who have been
We only handle cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that we are paid a portion of any recovery obtained in the case and you do not owe us any attorneys’ fees if the lawsuit does not result in a recovery.
Every case is unique. Our attorneys will work with your family to evaluate your potential case and help you evaluate whether filing a lawsuit or other legal proceeding is in your family’s best interest. Generally speaking, the types of cases we handle involve serious mental health effects, including attempted or completed suicide, eating disorders, inpatient mental health treatment, or sexual trafficking/exploitation that was caused by or contributed to through addictive or problematic social media use by teens and young adults.
We are a law firm based near Seattle, WA comprised of lawyers who have spent their entire careers representing victims who have been harmed by dangerous products. We are also parents. Shocked and troubled by the recent revelations about the harm caused to teens and young adults by social media platforms, which powerful technology companies have designed to be highly addictive, Social Media Victims Law Center was launched specifically to help families and children who have suffered serious mental harm or exploitation through social media use to obtain justice.
Matthew P. Bergman
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