The Social and Psychological Effects of Social Media Addiction on Adolescents

“I have 422 friends, yet I am lonely. I speak to all of them every day, yet none of them really know me. The problem I have sits in the spaces between, looking into their eyes, or at a name on a screen. I am guilty too, of being part of this machine, this digital world, where we are heard but not seen. Where we type and don’t talk, where we read as we chat, where we spend hours together, without making eye contact” (Poem by Gary Turk, 2014).

The ubiquitous social media platforms and the easy access to the internet create the potential for social media addiction; specifically, the irrational and immoderate use of social media that interferes with adolescents’ social and psychological development. The heavy reliance on social media can be detrimental to adolescents because it hosts relational, emotional, health, and academic performance problems. Kraut et al. (1998) stated that the excessive use of social media can be detrimental to adolescents and further affect their social and cognitive development.

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With the increased time spent online, there will likely be a reduction in face-to-face communication, which may lead to social isolation, depression, and loneliness. Argo and Lowery (2016) postulate that 89% of social media users are adolescents and they spend approximately 9 hours per day on different social media platforms. This may cause long-term or short-term problems like a decrease in academic performance and increased mental health issues. Based on the writers’ study, 71% of young adults use two or more social media sites (Argo and Lowery, 2016).

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A recent study conducted by the University of Chicago states that after experimenting on 205 people they found that “social media is more addictive than alcohol or cigarette” (Hofmann, 2012). In today’s society, technology has become an almost indispensable part of our daily interaction; specifically, in education, finance, entertainment, and social interactions. On the other hand, it can be viewed as addictive where individuals exhibit a compulsion to use social media to excess. There is always something new to discuss social media and the constant upgrade of apps, trending songs, or even new phones (Bryant,2017). Moreover, social media addiction can have a profound influence on adolescents’ attitudes and beliefs. The reduction in face-to-face communication is often caused by social media addiction, which manifests into poor communication skills, unsatisfactory academic performance, and depression.

Social media addiction affects cognitive development in adolescents, which causes them to perform poorly in their academics. One of the most widely known cognitive theorists Jean Piaget believes that adolescents ages 11-15 begin to develop their own cognitive world and organize their experiences. Santrock (2015) posits that teens are able to reason more intellectually and rationally, which enhances their ability to learn. But with so many social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram; adolescents become addicted to using these distracting platforms, which can have a detrimental impact on cognitive development and hinders academic improvement. Karpinski (2009) argued that adolescents that are addicted to using Facebook have a lower GPA than non-users. For example, students use their phones while classes are in session and they tend to scroll through different social media platforms to see if they are getting more followers or likes. Moreover, Lau (2017) stated that adolescents that use social media platforms while studying are negatively impacted because they spend more time scrolling and less time studying. Even though teens use the internet or social media for sharing, research, and discussions they are often distracted by the entertainment features, which allows diversion.

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The Social and Psychological Effects of Social Media Addiction on Adolescents. (2021, Dec 24). Retrieved from

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