That’s a loaded question. Here’s how it is specifically loaded in this case.
A study by a UK firm prompted a number of media outlets in the last week to come to that very conclusion – that teens are addicted to social media. The slanted starting point of the articles seems obvious to us, including the fact that several articles were written with the assumption that all teen social networking is bad; that the activity in its entirety is a vice comparable to teen drug or alcohol use. IN act, the study’s author himself, who is in the addiction business, uses that conclusion as the basis of the study.
The study itself surveyed 1,000 teens aged 12 – 18. When asked whether they would have trouble giving up the following for a month:
- Texting – 66% said yes
- Social Media – 58%
- Eating junk food – 28%
- Drinking alcohol – 6%
In our minds, it is not a valid comparison to say that a 14-year-old using Instagram is as damaging as the same child drinking alcohol.
An article at Engineering and Technology Magazine further states:
The report suggests that several elements involved in this habit – the constant pursuit of stimulation, peer approval, instant gratification and elements of narcissism – are all potential indicators of addictive behavior (sic).
The report also said that the constant evolution of technology and the new advances anticipated in 2015 and beyond runs alongside established potentially addictive activities such as alcohol-use and eating junk food.
The author of the study’s point of view is naturally based on his profession, and he is free to do whatever research he chooses. Parents are not in need of their own research study; a simple inventory of your child’s interests and accomplishments will tell you all you need to know.
Texting 10 times per day is not an illness; that is how teens communicate.
Not wanting to give up social media for a month is not indicative of an addiction – that is that is how teens communicate with friends and consume information.
As long as school work is getting done, there are extracurricular interests that don’t involve the phone and there is no indication that your teen’s conduct is unsafe or unkind toward others, their attachment to their phone is no more unhealthy that your attachment to the television. Sure, there could be problems, but it isn’t all a problem. Social media might be addictive, but it is not in itself necessarily an addiction.
If you were asked if it would be a struggle to give up TV for a month, what would your answer be?
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