by Corinne Reilly, Public Communication/CDAE major at the University of Vermont.
As media technology becomes a growing part of our everyday lives, so is the uncertainty of how these technologies are effecting us, particularly our youth. Social media is a new phenomenon that instantly connects you to millions of people around the world all sharing different things about themselves. Social media is free, easy to use, and it is the main source of communication between teenagers. Teenagers are going through a difficult time in their lives, trying to find themselves and grow into their own skin. Teenagers are more vulnerable than most, which makes them more susceptible to fall into social media addiction. Social media addiction is just like any other addiction, its victims feel the constant need to have it more and more. “Most teens are are on their phones all the time- in school, in bed at night, when they go to the bathroom, while you are trying to talk to them, and while they are trying to do homework”
Teenagers, like all people, have a desire to be wanted and liked. The instant gratification they get from “likes” and “retweets” is like a high for them. Social media is a popularity contest. The more “likes” you get the more popular you are . This becomes an issue because teenagers feel they have to out-do each other and post better content than everyone for more popularity. Not only does it aid those who are already popular, but it attracts the shy kids too. If a teen is overly shy, they may have trouble connecting with people in a face to face setting. Social media allows the kid to meet people online, but is hurting his face to face communication skills. The need for instant gratification feeds social media addiction. Teenagers enjoy keeping up to date on everything everyone is doing all the time, but do they understand the behavioral changes that come with addiction?
Many people fear online spaces for the sole reason that it makes it harder to set boundaries and isolate teenagers from the dangers of the internet . But, as it turns out, being so connected with each other is more dangerous than the internet itself. Social media has been the source of online bullying for years and has caused psychological damage to its victims. Many teenagers no longer feel safe on their own media platforms. Not only does this cause distress, but it can cause poor performance in school.. With the constant checking online and seeing what others are doing in comparison to yourself it’s no wonder teens have low self esteem. The more addicted they become to social media, the more they feel pressure to prove that they are “cool” enough. So, do teenagers understand what comes with their addiction to social media? Yes, they do. But they can’t stop. It’s an addiction they can’t shake.