Today’s teens are the first generation to come of age with social media. So many facets of their lives are posted on TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram that they simply can’t imagine a life without social media. However, for all of its innovation, psychologists warn that social media has been shown to become an addiction for some teens. If you’re a concerned parent, here are 13 signs that your child is addicted to social media.
#1 – Your Teen Wants Constant Access to Social Media
One of the early signs of social media addiction is the need for social media access. They must constantly be monitoring their status updates, checking for notifications, and being engaged with friends online. This is, after all, their public forum.
If your teen is unable to put their device down and engage in the real world for more than a few moments, you may want to intervene with some rules regarding social media time.
Is oversharing a problem…?
#2 – They Overshare with the World (TMI)
Social media is all about sharing, but sometimes people share too much. Your teen might be addicted to social media if they are posting every single nuance of their existence online. This aspect of social media promotes an entirely new level of vanity and mundanity that others on social media frankly find annoying. If your teen posts indiscriminately, he or she could post their debit card information or unwittingly invite thieves while on vacation. When it comes to social media, teens should know that less is more.
But what if they’re not connecting IRL…?
#3 – Ignoring Real Life
This one is tricky because social media is the contemporary teenager’s social
With digital addiction affecting roughly 50% of teens, parents need to take control of screen time.
Social media can also mess with their emotions…
#4 – They Become Stressed or Upset About Posts
Usually, when someone posts on social media, they will check periodically to see if anyone has responded. And studies have shown links between social media and depression — even with kids who aren’t addicted.
However, if someone is addicted to social media checks and finds no activity around their post, they begin to stress. Social media reinforces one’s sense of self, and if nobody pays attention, one might feel alienated. Teens are especially susceptible because their social media life is validated by their peers.
Another sign of addiction? Obsession with others…
#5 They Stalk Others
Teens typically do not know how to set or follow effective boundaries, and social media only exacerbates this issue. While stalking can happen to anyone, teen girls need to be particularly careful as cyberstalking is nothing new. Your teen should be aware of who is connecting with them or following them on social media, and know that stalking of any kind is a crime.
Amount of time online is also an indicator…
#6 Spending Four Hours a Day on Social Media
It has been argued in the past that just because someone spends a majority of time online doesn’t necessarily make them antisocial. While child health experts agree that the use of social media with children under 13 is deleterious and has been linked to depression in youngsters, a UNICEF report stated that “some social media is actually good.”
Did you know that in 2015 the average teen spent nine hours a day on social media? Teen health experts recommend less than two hours a day to avoid anxiety.
Another sign of addiction? Obsession with SM itself…
#7 They Become Obsessed
Popularity issues are something that every teen experiences, only now that eternal popularity contest is on an exponential scale, amplified through the social media lens. While some teens who can ride responsibly, there are those who take
It can also ruin their grasp on reality…
#8 They Don’t Understand Potential Real-World Consequences
Like anyone else, teens feel the need to express themselves, and social media is a powerful platform for them to do just that. Now, in their expressions, they have to understand that their social media posts could also have drastic consequences in the real world. For example, take the case of Roseanne Barr, who lost her show (and career) because of a racist tweet.
Many teens will inevitably post something on social media that they may later regret, so it’s important they learn before they make such a mistake.
And speaking of mistakes…
#9 It’s Their Daily Routine
Your teen could be addicted to social media when he or she includes social media in their daily routine to an obsessive degree. Almost compulsively, digitally-obsessed teens will make it a point to check their social media throughout the day, and will become anxious or depressed if they don’t.
But it’s not just the day…
#10 Middle of the Night Checks
If your social-media-obsessed teen is waking up in the middle of the night to check his or her Facebook or to send a late-night tweet, this is some next-level digital obsession. This means that your teen is either dreaming about social media or not sleeping in order to stay online (both of which are unhealthy).
The only solution here is to discuss device rules such as “no phones at bedtime” or “while they’re sleeping” and effectively implement them.
But what if they aren’t as social as they seem?
#11 – Uncomfortable Conversing Outside of Social Media
If you’ve ever had language attrition, you may be able to relate to this one. Teens that spend a majority of their day locked into their social networks will slowly be acculturated to the digital life; that is, they will let their social media world overtake their real-world social interactions. They will use internet slang more often than not, which could make them feel less connected to the outside world if those in real life don’t understand.
If your teen exhibits this sign, try to integrate internet slang into your conversations to show them you’re still cool, too.
Worried about ADHD…?
#12 – They Exhibit Signs of ADHD
Dr. Daria Kuss of Nottingham Trent University has written extensively on the excessive use of mobile devices and social media, even observing symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) via excessive social media activity. This is due to the nature of the platform, the user’s need to continually check their phone, and the fact that social media never sleeps.
#13 – They Try to Curb Usage But Can’t
The true sign of any addiction, users can’t quit even when they want to. Teens are at an age when impulsivity control is not developed and addictive behaviors can take shape. If your teen is concerned with their social media usage or states that they wish they could stop, reach out and help them make the transition as you wean them off.
Do you recognize any of these 13 signs? If you suspect that your teen is addicted to social media, there is help available. Try Talkspace or contact No Cost Rehab Placement at 800-377-3495 for more options. What are your thoughts about teen social media addiction?