Technology and Media | Consumer Fraud Protection

Social Media Addiction Statistics

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Social media addiction is a hot-button topic for researchers, internet users, parents and lawmakers. Use of social media has been associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Learn more below about social media addiction statistics and the negative effects of social media on internet users.

What is social media addiction?

Social media addiction has two important factors: compulsion and overuse. Researchers at Baylor University define social media addiction as “the excessive use and habitual monitoring of social media manifested in compulsive usage that comes at the expense of other activities.”

Addiction to internet sites is not a new problem either. In 1998, a study called Internet addiction: The emergence of a new clinical disorder found similarities between internet addiction and gambling addiction.

Today, the “internet addiction” of the 1990s has found a new outlet: social media platforms. Read on to find out about the statistics for social media addiction.

Social media use statistics

The most popular social media platforms among U.S. adults are YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok. January 2024 Pew Research Center data show the percentage of Americans adults who ever use social media:

  1. Youtube: 83% 
  2. Facebook: 68% 
  3. Instagram: 47%
  4. Pinterest: 35%
  5. TikTok: 33%

Pew also reports large percentages of adult Americans using those top social media apps daily.

Social media use among younger age groups may be even higher. For example, 95% of teens report using a social media platform.  Over a third say they use social media “almost constantly.”

A Surgeon General’s warning also reported high use numbers among children who are below the required minimum age (13 years old) for most social networking platforms.  In 2021, Common Sense Media found 38% of children aged 8 – 12 (“tweens”) reported using social media.

According to that same research, teen and tween social media use is on the rise. Researchers saw increases in screentime from 2019 to 2021.

  • As of 2021, teens average 7 hours and 22 minutes per day,
  • As of 2021, tweens average 4 hours and 44 minutes per day.

Multiple hours of social media usage a day, every day may stray into the territory of addictive use if the use is compulsive and having a harmful effect in other areas of people’s lives.

How many people are addicted to social media?

A researcher from California State University has estimated that 5% – 10% of Americans could meet the criteria for being at risk of social media addiction.  More studies are needed to get a firm answer to what percentage of the population is addicted to social media. However, approximate figures that have emerged, such as the one above, are worrying.

What demographics are addicted to social media?

Certain demographics are more likely to be addicted to social media than others. Two major groups show a higher likelihood of being addicted to social media are women and young people.

In one study, 36% of teens admit to spending too much time on social media.  Over 50% of teens say it would be “hard” to give up social media and nearly 20% say it would be “very hard.”

Though not huge, the gender divide is noticeable.

  • 58% of teen girls said it would be hard to give up social media
  • 49% of teen boys said it would be hard to give up social media

Statistics on the effects of social media

Data from leading research institutions has found high rates of cyberbullying, bad feelings and even suicidal thoughts in social media users. For example, the Surgeon General’s warning on social media reports on a study that found 46% of teens aged 13 – 17 said social media use made them feel worse about their body image.

One study by Common Sense Media examined youth who were evaluated as having “high” social-emotional wellbeing vs those with “low” social emotional-wellbeing. The young adults with low social-emotional wellbeing reported high percentages of negative experiences related to social media including:

  • 35% reported being a victim of cyberbullying
  • 43% said they “felt bad about themselves” if no one liked or commented on their posts
  • 43% also said they have deleted social media posts for not receiving enough likes
  • 70% said they sometimes felt “left out” or excluded when using social media

Teens who use social media addictively are also more likely to engage in self-harm behaviors.

But, negative experiences with social media are not limited to young adults. The Surgeon General’s Warning cited a unique study where depression and anxiety were measured in college-aged youth before and after the introduction of social media platforms. Researchers found a 9% increase in depression and 12% increase in anxiety among students.

Learn more about the dangers of social media for teens.

Effects of social media addiction

Various studies have identified several mental health issues linked directly to excessive social media use and addiction. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Body image issues
  • Depression
  • Disrupted sleep (delayed bedtimes and rise times)
  • Fear of missing out (also called FOMO)
  • Low self-esteem

These negative effects impact both adults and younger people. Surveyed teens have reported worsening mental health from using social media sites.

Learn more about the effects of social media on teens.

Getting help for social media addiction

Help is available for people addicted to social media. If you or a loved one are in crisis, national resources can help immediately.

  • You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. This free and confidential call will connect you with a trained staff member. You can also visit their website: SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.
  • You can contact the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) toll-free number at 1-800-931-2237. The association’s website can also direct you to resources at NationalEatingDisorders.org.

People concerned about addictive use of social media can also seek help through therapy and treatment programs for addiction treatment. Trained professionals can help addicted users. People addicted to social media may also be eligible to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their social media addiction.

Our attorneys at Motley Rice have worked for decades fighting for people and families against large corporations, including technology and media companies. We have filed lawsuits on behalf of people addicted to Instagram and other social media apps. If you need help filing a lawsuit for social media addiction, our law firm can help with individual social media lawsuits and multidistrict legislation. Your well-being is important to our team.

Contact a social media addiction attorney

You may be eligible to file a claim if you or your child has suffered negative mental health effects from using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Contact Motley Rice today for more information about a social media lawsuit.

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