Seven Symptoms of Social Media Addiction in Children

Although I wrote LIFESCALE as a way to come to terms with my own device and social media addiction and their power to distract me from productivity and true creativity, as a parent my concern naturally extends to how I can help my kids confront and hopefully overcome these same issues.

As someone who advocates for limiting our time online, I must say I find it ironic that to uncover the stats related to social media addiction in young people, I had to pull out my phone and use the Google app multiple times. I think the stats I have uncovered, and the summary of symptoms I found, have justified the time I invested on this.

Though I have long suspected it, I was dismayed to read the findings of a study by ApA PsycNET that teens who spend five hours a day on their phones are two times more likely to show depressive symptoms. Another study by ScienceDirect found that young, single females are addicted to social media more than any other group.

I also found a article called “Protect Your Child From Social Media Addiction” very illuminating.

It started out with similar stats from other studies that have been done. According to a survey conducted by CASA Columbia, an organization dealing with addictions and substance abuse, 70% of teenagers aged 12 to 17 admit to spending time on social networking websites every single day. Alarmingly, more than 90% of active Facebook users saw the photos of people being drunk, smoking, and using drugs at the age 15 and younger. Another quoted study by the UK National Citizen Service shows that most young girls in this digital age prefer not to discuss their problems with parents, but rather turn to social media.

The Teentor article offers a very handy checklist of seven symptoms that can help parents decide if their children are addicted to social media. They quote these from a report by Lawrence Wilson, MD, of the Center of Child Development. I found this list more helpful than many others I found online:

  1. Checking websites as often as possible, i.e., trying to finish a meal or homework quickly so they can get back to browsing.
  2. Withdrawal.
  3. Competitive search for friends, i.e., equating their number of Facebook friends with how they perceive themselves and their level of acceptance and popularity.
  4. Sharing too much information, i.e., private details and photos being used to gain social approval and acknowledgment by friends.
  5. Negative influence on education, i.e., no longer able to concentrate on educational requirements (in class or at home) due to constant distraction.
  6. Interference with real-life communication, i.e., wanting to spend more time on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat than hang out with friends in real life.
  7. Irritability and tiredness from social media interactions which affect the overall quality of life and personal interactions.

These stats and this list of symptoms are confirmation to me that “lifescaling” in many areas of our children’s lives is necessary for their mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. I am hoping parents will find my book LIFESCALE to be a resource where they can find practical solutions to helping their children achieve a greater overall quality of life – one full of creativity, meaningful in-person human interaction and the kind of joy that doesn’t come from accumulating “likes.”

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