Friday, 1 December 2017

Social Media Addiction Among Teens and The Issues It Raises

by William Northeast


In 2014 and 2015, Pew research centre conducted surveys on the use of social media amongst teens in the United States. They found that almost 75% of teenagers had more than one social media account and that 94% of teens who go online via a mobile device do so daily. On average, according to www.washingtonpost.com, teens spend nearly 9 hours a day using their phones and these statistics still continue to rise. Social media does have its advantages, but teens, as well as adults are resorting to the use of phones as a substitute to talking and connecting with others in person. Before long, our future generations will lack basic communication skills if this trend continues.

There are a number of reasons why adolescents are becoming addicted to social media. Addiction may derive from a lack of connection with one’s family or friends. This lack of relationships with people could cause confusion or frustration, and the only place where a teen feels secure and safe without feeling out of place is on social media. Furthermore, if teens feel insecure and shy about socialising in real life, then social media can give them a platform to meet new friends, build on relationships and grow in confidence.

For many, it's far too easy to go for the ‘easy option’ and text someone rather than picking up the phone or asking them over coffee. In addition, society is becoming more and more focused on technology such as connected homes, facial recognition and mobile payments. Social media has it's advantages such as the ability to share important global messages to large numbers or to spread charitable campaigns for instance, but it is excessive and unnecessary to base our real lives on our online lives.

Boredom is the number one reason why teenagers globally spend hours each day on their mobile devices. The step up from being a child to being a teenager is a struggle for parents, as children these days are just not interested in going to the park or walking the dog. Studies by universities in England and Wales have shown that 79% of teenagers in the the U.K would rather sit on their phone and text a friend over playing sport. Not only is this damaging children’s social skills, but it is affecting their health aswell. Headaches, blurry or strained vision, insomnia and fluctuating weight are all issues caused by excessive mobile phone use.

I end this article on a serious note. Depression and suicide amongst teenagers, especially girls, has had a huge increase over the past decade. Sites such as Instagram are home to thousands of models who spend hours editing, filtering and showing off what a ‘perfect body’ should look like. Too many teenagers are not only inspired by these false images, but are becoming increasingly insecure about their own bodies because they do not live up to the false online world. Snapchat is also a serious problem amongst teens. For those who do not know, Snapchat supposedly allows its users to leave behind little evidence of their online activities by ‘deleting’ messages and photos sent after they have been viewed. This is one of the reasons why cyber bullying is so common online in modern times, because bullies think they can delete whatever they upload. The technological development of social media has bought many advantages but inappropriate use can be very damaging.

In conclusion, we as teens are the only people who realistically can change this situation. Limit the time spent on your devices to an hour a day or less. Get outdoors or go and play sport. Phones should be left in a cupboard when not in use, removing temptations. Be teenagers and enjoy the occasional scroll through your twitter feed and see what your friends are up to but be conscious that the more time you spend on your phone, the more controlling of an effect it will have on you. 

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