When you eat chocolate or win money, certain reward centers in your brain go crazy–which is the reason why people like those things so much and want to do it again. This is one of the reasons people may struggle with binge eating or gambling addictions. In a study by the University of California, researchers found that these same parts of the brain light up when a teen receives a high volume of “likes” on their photos. This is just one more thing that helps us understand the new social media addiction. Though social media addiction relatively new and much isn’t known about the causes or effects, studies like these help us further understand how it works.
Social media addiction defined
Social media addiction isn’t officially classified as an addiction, but it’s a compulsive need to use social media–even if it’s in a dangerous situation, like driving. If your child were to have a social media addiction and you took away their form of accessing it, it’s likely that they would show symptoms like anxiety or mood swings. Also, for someone with social media addiction, it’s likely they take the risk of checking social media while driving, which is on par with drunk driving. Social media addiction has the power to make someone risk their life, showing that it’s a dangerous attachment that can only be described as an addiction or harmful obsession.
Friends can highly influence teens on social media
Researchers also found that a teen was much more likely to “like” a photo on Instagram (a social media platform) if it had a lot of “likes” or was “liked” by a friend. If they saw the exact photo with either less likes or no likes from a friend, they were much less likely to “like” it. Researchers think this gives us an insight into the amount of influence friends and peers have on a teen’s thoughts, decisions, and preferences.
Now think about it this way. “Likes” on a regular photo is one thing, but what about cigarettes, drunk driving, or other dangerous acts? If your teen sees photos of someone underage drinking and it has a huge amount of “likes”, what do they think? How much power does that have over what your child thinks about that type of behavior? More studies and research have to be conducted to make clear how much power peers have through social media–but it’s definitely something that should be thought about.