Why Teens Check Their Social Media Profiles 100+ Times a Day
No one can deny that our world is much different than it was 10+ years ago. Although Facebook was founded in 2004, it wasn’t until 2006 that it was open to people other than college students.
Since then, our world has seen the birth of the social media explosion. From Twitter to Snapchat, people seem to be addicted. And the worst affected are teenagers. Some teens as young as 13 years old feel like they might die if they don’t check their social media.
Back in the 1980s, connecting with your friends consisted of calling their house, having a parent answer, asking to talk to your friend, and then making plans to hang out. These days, it is not unlikely to find a group of teenagers (who are all friends) sitting around looking at their phones instead of talking to each other.
How did this happen? How did today’s youth succumb to the an obsession such as needing to check their social media profiles on a constant basis?
There are many reasons, and here are some of them:
1. Need for inclusion.
We’ve all dealt with peer pressure growing up, and some people are more susceptible than others. But at some level, we all want to be included. No one wants to be the only one who didn’t get invited to a party or to be a part of the group. Conformity is a common pressure for teens, and many children experience the desire to conform in middle school.
The “bandwagon effect” is a very real phenomenon for all human beings. We think, “if everyone is doing it, then I should be too!” Social media has been one big bandwagon phenomenon for over ten years.
And most teenagers don’t even know a world where people used to connect and include each other outside of social media. So if other people are doing it, they want to do it too.
2. Need for attention.
We also live in a celebrity-obsessed culture. With the advent of reality shows, it seems like someone can get famous even if they don’t have any particular talent. Even Justin Bieber himself was discovered on Youtube. And remember the Chewbacca Lady on Facebook not too long ago? After her video went viral, she became a celebrity overnight.
Since we live in a society that rewards people when they get attention, it’s no wonder that teenagers feel the need to post sexy “duck face” pictures to see how many likes they can get.
It’s even common for teens to take down a post if they don’t get enough “likes”. They find it embarrassing that not enough people paid attention to them.
3. Need for affection.
Usually, we think of affection as physical affection. However, in this digital age, we are re-defining the term “affection.” When a teenager posts a photo or a status update, that allows his/her followers to not only “like” it, but also to comment.
Who wouldn’t want to hear “Oh you’re so pretty!” or “Great job! You must be so proud of yourself!” Basically, this virtual affection is coming to teens in the form of compliments. Most people like compliments, but with some teens and social media, it is downright addicting.
So what can be done? How can we as a society stop our young people from thinking that their self-worth is only as good as how many likes they get?
It all starts with parenting. It should be the parents’ job to give their children a strong sense of self-esteem. If kids love themselves, they are less likely to be dependent on their social media followers’ love. In fact, they won’t need it because they are getting that from their real-life relationships.
Start conversations with your child about their screen time. Set boundaries such as limiting time on the phone or iPad to certain times of day or create a smartphone contract. With clear expectations for how and when to use technology, children can more successfully navigate how to balance the real world with their online lives.
Parents should also consider themselves role models. Some children believe their parents are just as guilty of being addicted to their smartphone. In order to best teach good digital behavior, it’s important for parents to show it. Create rules in the smartphone contract that applies to the whole family! With a clear plan and understanding, you can help your child overcome social media addiction.