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Understanding How Social Media and Addiction Are Connected for Today’s Teen

Understanding How Social Media and Addiction Are Connected for Today’s Teen

Many parents don’t realize that there is a connection between social media and addiction in teens. Here is what you need to know to protect the young adult in your life.

Love it or hate it, social media has become an integral part of our modern lives. There are arguably many benefits of social media use, but there are also times when it’s justified to wonder if social networks are doing more harm than good – especially when it concerns the younger, more impressionable audience that makes up a major portion of social media users. It’s important to understand how far-reaching the effects of social networking can be, more specifically the connection between social media and addiction.

The Complexities of Teens and Social Media

Pew Research conducted a study on Teens and Social Media, and the results really aren’t that surprising. According to the study, nearly all teens have access to a smartphone and 45 percent say they are online almost constantly – much of that time spent on social media. (1)

Contrary to what some parents might believe, Facebook isn’t the number one social platform for teens. YouTube, Instagram and SnapChat are the top three networks for teenagers. These platforms are highly visual and encourage interaction. While this can be a good thing, it also opens the door for peer pressure – which is often multiplied on social media.

Social media also promotes an environment where drinking and drug use seem to be the norm among teenagers. Not only are teens put in the position to show up and keep up, but they’re also becoming desensitized to the real effects of drug and alcohol use. For teens, this pressure can be immense and it can also lead to addiction.

What Is the Connection Between Social Media and Drug Use?

Social media is incredibly influential, especially for teenagers. Social media provides a window into the lives of their peers, and it also gives teens a glimpse into worlds that they otherwise would never experience – for instance, frequent posts that give them a personal view into the lives of their favorite celebrities.

Most adults will readily admit that things on social media are rarely what they seem. For teens, this can be difficult to understand, and the illusion is a big part of the connection between social media and drug use.

It’s been reported that teens who use social media are more likely to use alcohol and other drugs than those who do not. The risk was even higher when teens had seen images of other teens using these substances – such as what they are likely to encounter on Instagram or SnapChat. (2)

While it might seem impossible to protect a teen from this type of content, what parents and young adults who are responsible for themselves need to realize is that exposure leads to acceptance, but what exposure doesn’t do is paint the entire story. The negative effects of drug use are rarely seen on social media, which leads to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.

Other aspects of social media can also play a role in fostering an addiction – for instance, cyberbullying. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that 14.9 percent of high school students were cyberbullied at least once in a 12 month period.  Cyberbullying can lead to self-destructive behaviors, including using drugs as an escape. (3)

It’s important for parents, loved ones, and friends of teens and young adults to be aware of the signs of addiction and how social media can play a role in promoting the acceptance of addictive behaviors.

Academically Focused Addiction Treatment Center Boca Raton

There is an established connection between social media and addiction for some teens. If you’re worried that a teen in your life is struggling with a substance use disorder, or you yourself are a teen in need of help, know that there are treatment options designed specifically for teen addiction. If you have questions or need treatment, contact an academically focused addiction treatment center in Boca Raton. The help you need is only a phone call away.


Media Contact:

Boca Raton Life of Purpose

(T): 732-421-5955




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