Media addiction in adolescents
How to cite this article: Nayak S. Media addiction in adolescents. Karnataka Pediatr J 2022;37:117-9.
Internet is used by over 95% of adolescents and a majority of them have social media accounts. Social media and internet addiction develops imperceptibly and takes over the life of adolescents, with plenty of adverse outcomes. A knowledge of this condition is essential for all handlers of adolescents and recognising the red flag signs will ensure timely intervention and management. Some common suggestions that can be used by adolescents to monitor themselves and avoid excessive usage of social media must also be known by providers.
Social media addiction
Social media platforms
WHAT IS ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA?
Social media has become a regular part of our daily life. Adolescents and young adults form a large chunk of social media users. This is the most convenient and best way to remain connected with peers and friends. Adolescents also use this as a means to extend their network, find or exchange information, materials and knowledge. Besides this, it is also used as a tool to construct their social identity in relation to peer groups in terms of popularity, acceptance and providing a sense of belonging.
IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ADOLESCENTS
The adolescent age is a stage of change in the biological, social and psychological environment. The adolescent undertake self-discovery and expression, discovers his/her identity and seeks peer approval while forging friendships and lasting relationships. Social media platforms are extremely important and vital for adolescents, as they strive to be accepted by their peers. This is also an area of relative freedom from parental monitoring, and hence, adolescents feel that they can share without inhibitions. They can extend their networks, exchange information and widen their knowledge through these platforms.
WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION?
According to Wikipedia, addictions are a certain type of impulse control disorder. Social media addiction refers to an unhealthy dependence and uncontrollable urge to use the social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, and many others such platforms. Arbitrary numbers of spending over 3–5 h on these platforms have been considered as pointing towards an addiction. There is per se, no gold standard diagnostic tool to measure this condition. It is considered a non-substance disorder, associated with a compulsive use to engage excessively in various platforms, with a negative impact on the life of the user.
Social media is used as a pastime, as a method to connect with family and loved ones, to watch videos, but above all, to gain peer approval, which builds confidence or otherwise, of adolescents and young adults. The Harvard Business Review mentions a study done on university students who used social media for over 3 hours/day, resulting in poor scholastic performance and sleep disturbances.
ASSESSMENT OF MEDIA ADDICTION
Social media has become an inveterate part of daily life. However, the transition from access to addiction is often imperceptible. Most addicts are not aware that they have developed a non-substance addiction, and that they need help to overcome this before it has detrimental effects on their health.
Several tools have been developed to assess this condition.
Bergen social media addiction scale (BSMAS) – This has six items and is a self-report scale. This is a brief and effective psychometric instrument that assesses those at risk of social media addiction. This BSMAS assesses six core elements of salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict and relapse. The scale ranges from 1 (very rarely) to 5 (very often). Higher scores indicate stronger addiction, with scores over 19 pointing to the possibility of problematic social media usage.
Internet addiction test – This is the most commonly used test created by Young in 1998. This is a 20–item symptom measuring tool for measuring the presence and severity of internet addiction.[6,7] The results of this test can be used to categorise addictive behaviour into four categories-lack of addiction/mild signs of addiction/moderate signs of addiction/severe addictive behaviour. Several studies across the globe have used this tool and validated it as reliable for covering key characteristics of pathological internet use
Social media addiction scale: Was developed in 2016 by Eijnden et al. A score of 0–9 is taken on the scale with a cutoff point of 5. Items are scored as ‘NO = 0’ and ‘Yes = 1’. Adolescents with a score of over 5 are considered as social media addicts
Other tools available include
Chenud internet addiction scale
Internet addiction scale
Young of the internet addiction questionnaire.
RED FLAGS FOR INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION
Some pointers could act as early indicators to warn about the possibility of developing addiction to the internet including social media usage. A close watch could guide the caretaker towards identifying the condition.
The person is preoccupied with social media and the internet
There is a need to spend more and more time on the internet to achieve satisfaction
Unsuccessful attempts to control, reduce or interrupt the use of social media and internet
Feeling anxious or depressed when stopping use of social media and the internet
Endangers personal work, study and contacts
Conceals the truth about addiction from the family members.
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION
According to currently available data, almost 5–10% of users of social media sites have an addiction issue. The effects of this non-substance addiction are myriad, as it has a significant influence on the brain.
The physical health of adolescents is impacted as they spend hours glued to the internet-enabled devices. The likelihood of physical activity and exercise is limited
Stress, anxiety and mental health issues
Poor academic performance
Deterioration of interpersonal relations
Poor coping skills
Changes in socialisation
Greater comparison with peers and others
Increased incidence of depression
Higher levels on anxiety
The adolescents have an uncontrolled urge and desire to be accepted by others in their network. They constantly strive to get ‘views’, ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ to their posts. This desire makes them want to be constantly accessing the Internet and their social media platforms. They can go to any lengths to ensure they get what they want.
SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION AND CYBERBULLYING
The incidence of cyberbullying is higher amongst those with social media addiction. This results in greater stress levels, mental health issues and suicidal tendencies. Studies have shown that girls are more often subjected to cyberbullying compared to boys. This is a means of extending face-to-face bullying to an online environment. The bullying can spread and the perpetrators can remain anonymous, leading to greater intensity through cyberbullying compared to the traditional ways. It is associated with higher likelihood of depression.
TIPS FOR SELF-REGULATION OF SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE
Following some basic rules will help to prevent/control social media and internet addiction.
Track your time spent on social media sites
Turn off notifications from social media apps to decrease or remove the distraction
Reduce the number of social media platforms used, which will help to downsize the usage of social media
Work with a partner who is motivated and can guide you back from excess social media usage
Set aside a specific time and time limit when you will be using the social media platforms
Set offline times at notified times/days when you will be completely offline
Take a temporary break from social media usage.
Internet is used by over 95% of adolescents and a majority of them have social media accounts. Social media and internet addiction develops imperceptibly and takes over the life of the adolescents, with plenty of adverse outcomes. A knowledge of this condition is essential for all handlers of adolescents and recognising the red flag signs will ensure timely intervention and management.
Declaration of patient consent
Patient’s consent not required as there are no patients in this study.
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
Financial support and sponsorship
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