SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION, SIGNS AND TREATMENT
Social media addiction is characterized as an adolescent who exhibits an obsessive preoccupation with social media.
Social media is an integral component of the American society. It is everywhere and difficult to avoid. Young people rely on social media as a means to communicate with friends, obtain news about current events, and relay information about their own lives to the public. A teen that struggles with social media addiction has become unhealthily engrossed in social media to the point that it results in negative consequences in their real life. There are a plethora of social media platforms that teenagers participate in, some of which include: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, and Pinterest. While some participation on social media can be beneficial for young people, too much can have negative repercussions.
One of the draws to social media is that an adolescent has full control over what they post and how they represent themselves. This can be initially empowering for a young person, but also instills a constant need for outside validation and approval from one’s peers. Adolescence can be a challenging time in one’s life and if a teenager spends the majority of his or her time engaged in a false sense of reality (on social media), he or she risks a delay in the development of appropriate social skills. The virtual world is often used as an escape from reality for teenagers.
Signs & Symptoms
The signs and symptoms that can present themselves in young people struggling with social media addiction will vary, and depend on the personality of the individual. Some of the examples exhibited in teens with a social media addiction are as follows:
• Disconnected from family
• Weight fluctuations
• Relationship struggles
• Neglecting responsibilities
• Consistently using technology to check various social media platforms multiple times a day
• Eye pain
• Frequent headaches
• Difficulty sleeping
• Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
Any combination of the above examples can occur in a young person with a social media addiction. Though social media use can seem innocent and unharmful, excessive use can result in destructive social and emotional consequences for a teenager. Adolescents that have a social media addiction have learned to rely on social media as a means for coping with their emotional struggles. This is an unhealthy means to manage one’s emotions and without treatment can encourage further use of the negative coping mechanism.
Pacific Teen Treatment uses various therapeutic modalities to create individualized treatment plans for each of its clients. When treating a young person with a social media addiction, the therapeutic component will help the teen explore both the excessive length of time spent on social media as well as the core reason behind their habitual engagement online. Some of the therapeutic modalities that are used at Pacific Teen Treatment in helping to treat teens with a social media addiction include a combination of talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and expressive arts therapy. We also encourage the practice of various relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation. Making sure to allow for ample rest, eating healthy meals, and regular exercise are all part of our program.
Many young people that have a social media addiction suffer from low self-esteem and a diminished level of self-confidence. Through their addiction, they perpetuate these negative self-views and we work to break that cycle. It is important to teach proper boundaries to teenagers who have a social media addiction. We do not expect a young person with a social media addiction to completely abstain from using all social media platforms. Rather we want to introduce and instill a healthy relationship with social media, to be used in moderation.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Seeking support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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