Technology and Media | Consumer Fraud Protection

Social Media Addiction in Teens

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While social media use has become commonplace among kids, parents sometimes worry about how much is too much. Unfortunately, social media addiction in teens is a real phenomenon that parents need to be aware of. Studies have linked spending too long on social media with harm to the mental health of young children and teens.

What are signs of social media addiction?

There is no one definition of social media addiction, but it can be described as compulsive use of a social media platform that disrupts a person’s life. Studies point to six key signs of social media addiction:

  1. Salience: How much does social media use dominate both a person’s thoughts and activities?
  2. Mood modification: Does the person use social media to escape problems in other parts of their life?
  3. Tolerance: Does a person need to use social media more often over time?
  4. Withdrawal: Does a person experience psychological distress if they can’t use social media?
  5. Conflict: Does social media use impact a person’s schooling or job?
  6. Relapse: Does social media use resume at the same level after trying to reduce or stop use?

These signs may be a useful tool for parents who are concerned about the well-being of their children. If you see these signs of addictive behavior, consider discussing your concerns with your child and reaching out to a mental health professional.

How much do teens use social media?

According to a 2023 survey by the Pew Research Center, daily social media use among many adolescents is common. The survey found that daily use of social media varied with the platform, but was overall very high. Additionally, almost one in six teens check YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat “almost constantly.” 

Social media platform

Percent of teens using it daily

YouTube

71%

TikTok

58%

Snapchat

51%

Instagram

47%

Facebook

19%

How many teens are addicted to social media?

Social media addiction is difficult to measure. However, a 2022 survey by the Pew Research Foundation found that more than half of teens reported that it would be difficult for them to stop using social media.

Contact a social media attorney

Motley Rice is reviewing allegations that social media platforms, including TikTok and Instagram, intentionally and deliberately designed their social media platforms without regard for the safety of our children.

Our thoughts go out to those affected by suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders worsened by social media.

Call Attorney Jonathan Orent at 1.800.768.4026 or complete this form to explore your options.

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What are the effects of social media addiction on youth?

Teen social media use has a number of possible psychological effects. These include:

  • Increased mental health issues: A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry found children aged 11-15 were more likely to experience mental health problems if they used social media for more than three hours a day.
  • Poorer sleep and life outputs: An internal report from Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, recognized that negative effects on sleep, productivity, and relationships are signs of addictive use.
  • Increased incidences of depression and anxiety: A recent analysis found that since 2010 symptoms of anxiety, depression and loneliness among teens have increased at the same time as an increase in the amount of time teens spend on social media. This included an increase in emergency room visits for self-harm, suicide attempts, and completed suicides.
  • Decreased self-esteem: Studies on social media use in children and adolescents found a correlation between social media use, low self-esteem and poor body image.

Why are teens addicted to social media?

There are many explanations for why more and more teens are addictively using social media. These include:

  • Intermittent rewards: Social media apps are often designed to “reward” teens at unpredictable intervals with likes and other positive social interactions, encouraging them to keep using the platform in the hopes of getting more rewards.
  • Attunement to social connections: Around the age of 10, children’s brains become increasingly attuned to social attention and approval, exactly the thing that social media apps’ many feedback and connection mechanisms provide. The flip side of this is that the apps are breeding grounds for fear of missing out (FOMO). Sadly, worries about missing out on interactions can drive compulsive use. 
  • Less impulse control: Teen brains are not fully developed, making them more likely to pursue rewards without concern for the potential consequences. . One of the key areas for impulse control regulation is the prefrontal cortex, which is not fully formed until the 20s.

Parents and lawmakers are concerned that social media platforms are exploiting these psychological instincts to foster addictive use.

What you can do to help teens addicted to social media

If you’re concerned that your teen or child may be addicted or may become addicted to social media, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you:

  • Establish reasonable limits on social media use and screen time
  • Talk directly with your child about any concerning changes in behavior
  • Monitor what your child does on their social media apps
  • Set an example of good social media use
  • Encourage offline time between your child and their friends

What you can do if social media addiction has harmed your child

If your family has already experienced harm because of your teen’s social media addiction, you may wish to pursue a social media lawsuit against the responsible company or companies.

A social media lawyer can speak with you about your options if you’re concerned about how TikTok, Instagram or other social media platforms have impacted your family.

Our experience helping people with technology companies

or decades, Motley Rice attorneys have fought for people and families against corporate conglomerates that prioritize profits over safety. We are currently working on behalf of people who have been harmed by Instagram addiction and harm from other social media platforms. This may include people and their children who have experienced depression, eating disorders and suicidal behavior that was worsened due to social media.

Your well-being is important to our team. We can help you determine if you are eligible to file a lawsuit for Instagram addiction.

Help for self-harm and suicidal behavior

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: 988lifeline.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.