A number of teens have fallen under the spell of digital addiction. Technology, especially social media, has almost become an extra organ in our bodies; it is something we have a hard time living without. Before the smartphone was introduced, nobody was completely absorbed in the growing technology around them. Even when mobile phones came out, we’d only ever use the call function. It was the birth of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat that created a world of digital addiction.
Social media applications are capable of manipulating us to keep going back and back and back. They know just how to capture our attention and make us feel good. Here are some ways in which they do this…
Do you ever notice that you don’t get off social media because you haven’t seen the last post or reached the end of your feed? Social media is an unlimited source of posts and stories; you could scroll for thousands of years and still not make it through 1% of it all. Social media purposely gets rid of the “break” aspect to keep you on the app, and in the off-chance that you get bored of the posts on one app, you can easily click onto the next app. Each app has a different unique feature: Youtube is a place for videos posted by creators, Instagram and Snapchat keep you up to date on friends and celebrities, Reddit is an open place for topic specific discussions. As long as you have battery, you’ll be stuck in a social media anti boredom loop.
- You easily lose track of time
- You interact less with others in your free time
- It may affect your attention span as you’re constantly given the opportunity to switch from one task to another
Suggestions: If you have a hard time controlling your time management and self control when scrolling on your phone, it could be helpful to set a daily limit (i.e 30mins a day on Instagram).
Social Media has programmed us to pick up our phones whenever there’s a buzz or vibration. We are accustomed to checking our phones multiple times a day. In fact, according to Business Insider, we pick up our phones 2,617 times everyday. So why are we so inclined to pick up our phones? A reason could be that we want to make sure we are always there to receive the text/call if people are trying to contact us. However, social media applications can have you on the edge of your seats at all times simply by using the like and comment system. Social media applications often utilise notifications to make us compulsively check our phones.
- Anti social: You may be too aware of your phone and become disconnected with your surroundings and the people around you.
- Fear of missing out (FOMO): You always feel the need to check your phone in case you miss out on your friends’ posts or any important events and texts.
Suggestions: You can choose which notifications you want displayed for individual applications. To decrease the frequency of your phone checking, you could remove notifications for some “unimportant” applications and only keep the ones that are really necessary.
What is a like? To us it is equal to someone’s acknowledgement of our social presence, a way for us to feel satisfied with ourselves. In reality, with the sheer amount of posts we go through each day, liking pictures could just be a habit while browsing. People have developed the tendency to comment for the sake of commenting or liking for the sake of liking, instead of genuinely liking the picture. Since technology and social media have become embedded in our lives, it’s almost impossible to not care about our social media presence.
- Social insecurity: You may feel the need to delete pictures that only get a small amount of likes. You may also overthink and worry about posting because of what others might think, regardless of what you yourself really want.
- Body image problems: As most people only post their “best” sides, posts generally are all pictures of people being happy and looking good. Individuals may compare themselves to posts online and, more importantly, feel the need to change their body or life to match the pictures that they see online.
Suggestions: It’s difficult to not think about how others will view you, but before you seek appraisal from others, you should feel genuinely happy about your post and appreciate yourself.
http://theconversation.com/digital-addiction-how-technology-keeps-us-hooked-97499 – Digital addiction ‘How technology keeps us hooked’
https://upleap.com/blog/instagram-addiction/ – ‘Instagram addiction’
https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/30-signs-social-media-addiction-133619535.html – ‘30 signs of social media addiction’
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323459.php – ‘General symptoms of addiction’
https://www.businessinsider.com/dscout-research-people-touch-cell-phones-2617-times-a-day-2016-7 – ‘Here’s how many times we touch our phones every day’
Editor’s note: Check out this page to know more about how social media affects us as teenagers.