Teen Social Media Addiction is a behavioral disorder in which teens become so preoccupied and obsessed with social media that it distracts them from engaging in the real world, and in turn, causes harmful effects on multiple aspects of their lives. While many teenagers engage in some form of social media (including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, and video games) and consider it a daily part of their lives, Teen Social Media Addiction is characterized by the level of this use being so extreme that it negatively affects the relationships and responsibilities in the teens’ lives.
The two most dominating characteristics of Teen Social Media Addiction are the large amount of time that teens spend on social media and the underlying reasons why they’re doing so. Teens with Social Media Addiction have an almost constant nagging desire to check updates, write statuses, share a picture, play a game, or engage in their social media world in some way. They’re often much more interested and participatory in this online world than they are in the real world that they inhabit with actual people, in having real conversations, and in undergoing real experiences. Along these same lines, another negative effect of such overuse of social media is that teens become more willing and skilled at socially interacting online rather than in person. Especially considering that adolescence is a time when the development of social skills is especially valuable and necessary in their lives, teens may likely be harming their in-person social skills by retreating to the online world, choosing to interact in the cyber realm rather than developing real social skills. This can, in turn, hurt the teen’s ability to function well and succeed in required social settings, like time at school and making friends during extracurricular activities.
It’s also become common for teens to actually view and take part in their real experiences with a concentration on how it can “appear” in the social media realm, as opposed to just being present in what they’re doing. For instance, teens might be more dedicated to appearing like they’re having fun in a photo at the beach than actually spending their time at the beach, enjoying it. While some level of this desire to record their experience is understandable, too much of this concentration becomes yet another way for teens to be distracted from the present moment and it causes them to search constantly for a way of convincing an audience of a certain self-image. For so many adolescents that already experience this time of life as being full of pressures to be “good enough” in so many different ways and who struggle with understanding their own identities, we find that the overuse of social media is distracting and confusing to experiencing their own lives honestly as well as discovering their identities in an authentic way.
The first and most primary function of Teen Social Media Addiction Treatment is to reduce the amount of time that teens spend on social media. This may look different for different teens, but will be implemented according to the teen’s specific situation. By helping to limit and restrict the amount of time teens spend interacting in the social media realm, it automatically helps to reduce the amount of time they spend preoccupied and distracted from engaging in the real world. Therapists simultaneously begin working with teens to evaluate and address what are the underlying reasons, triggers, and beliefs connected to this overuse of social media, as well as the negative effects which this overuse has had.
As teens begin to make the connections between their overuse of social media and things like strained relationships, trouble in school, and a constant feeling of being distracted and anxious, therapists can lead them toward the bigger, more underlying things that are at play. In this sense, Teen Social Media Addiction Treatment often overlaps and intersects with other treatment the teens might be engaging in, sometimes for things like a Mood Disorder or Substance Abuse struggles. Gradually, therapists want to help teens gain an awareness to make the connections between all different areas of their lives, so that they understand that their actions have consequences that may extend beyond their current awareness. This integration of Teen Social Media Addiction Treatment into the teens’ overall treatment plans is exemplary of our holistic approach to all Teen Substance Abuse and Mental Disorder treatment.
One of the most important and helpful things you can give to your teens, despite all of their insistence against it, is structure. Though adolescents often insist and battle parents for more freedom and independence, in truth, it’s often too much of their own freedom that leads them into struggles. Providing some reasonable limitations on our teens’ social media time, including cell phone time, is one great way to help encourage them to enjoy visiting that online world, while still remaining alive in this one.