Part of the success that explains the popularity of social networks like Facebook or Instagram is their ease of use.. It’s simple to operate, and once inside it’s not hard to know what to do at all times by (literally) wiggling a finger.
Unfortunately, this same ease of use constitutes a potentially harmful mechanism of use for many adolescents, an age group that is particularly vulnerable “to the charms” of this type of virtual environment.
And it is that if people as prone to distractions and immediacy that young people have learned to use social media, it is because these digital platforms are able to constantly promise them the satisfaction of many of their needs. fundamentals. Isto get us talking about similar addicts: What are they, how are they made and what can be done to deal with this problem.
The causes of the dependence of the “like” on social networks
Two of the most important characteristics of adolescent psychology are: seek experiences beyond the family sphere and seek acceptance by a reference group (adolescents of the same age and slightly older than oneself).
These sources of motivation for the average teenager tend to bother many parents, and of course sometimes they don’t mesh too well with parenting values and priorities. However, they are still part of the normal development of young people.
Normally, the desire to gain popularity does not become a problem or an obsession. But the reality is that in order to achieve fame, attention and desire, some young people may expose themselves to risky situations (even for their lives) or overexpose their intimate life, becoming obsessed with the goal they continue: recognition and popularity, all translated into likes. And the more, the better.
This teenage mindset can make young people more prone to certain habits that are not recommended. Specifically, the uncontrolled use of social networks like Facebook or Instagram can cause them to “stick” to their smartphones and computers. The reason? These digital platforms allow them to permanently enter into a dynamic in which these two needs mentioned above are quickly satisfied. This is why many boys and girls can end up developing an addiction to mobile devices (nomophobia) and a severe dependence on likes, (like-addicts).
The search for new experiences
On the one hand, social media offers the possibility of creating content continuously, almost without interruption: Writing statuses, uploading photos, sharing videos … One type of content that these digital platforms try to prioritize is that which is created by the users, which is about the person. Instagram stories, photos you can be tagged in, personal thoughts …
The companies that manage these platforms they focus on original personal content, created by users, Shunning institutional content.
This creates a context in which teens have an excuse to show up in different situations and share them on the internet through photos, videos, messages, etc. Even these actions, which at other times may seem silly, are justified by the fact that they are seen by many people who become potential sources of “likes”. And that brings us to the next point.
There is acceptance
As we have seen, social media gives reasons to post self-explanatory content, which makes the experience of new experiences even more stimulating: you can enjoy more of exploring ruins, climbing an abandoned building, going on vacation to an exotic location or even new clothes. And this goes back to the other great source of motivation for adolescents: the search for acceptance and respect by other young people.
Here it is important to keep in mind the following: the young people for whom the adolescent wants to be accepted are not the members of his group of friends, but many more peopleEven strangers or other high school teens who have never heard of him.
This logic adapts very well to what social networks offer: the possibility of generating content of potentially unlimited scope. If done right, a home video can go viral and reach hundreds of thousands of people within hours. The reach of that content depends, in large part, on how often that content is shared and the “likes” that others give to that video, photo or post.
In this way, social media they offer the possibility of becoming famous practically without having to move from the sofa, Without having to submit to the review of other people more popular than oneself, and even without relying on the collaboration of friends.
The result: like-addicts
A social network is a place where original content is consumed and shared what is personal and amazing is rewarded. In return, it offers fame and a lifestyle based on new experiences. All this, working in real time, with one click and without waiting.
The result goes beyond constant use of social media to see what others have posted. Many adolescents around the world already dream of making themselves known in the virtual world. Gaining popularity, money and recognition through social media has already become one of his main desires..
In fact, there are already studies that suggest that in the teenage population, there is a direct relationship between obsessive use of social media and an increased risk of developing depression. This is why parental monitoring and attention is important in observing how children are using their social media.
How to deal with this problem?
It is clear that for many families this dynamic of social media use by teenage sons and daughters is becoming a problem. Here are some recommendations to deal with it.
1. Improve risk education
Exposure to social media carries many risks for teens. You need to make sure you know them and keep them in mind, Although without alarming exaggeration so that they are not obsessed with dangers that do not exist.
2. Better education in values
It is important that parents, teachers and guardians make young people understand that in life, the most important thing is not only to be at the top of the social hierarchy by the number of followers on Facebook or Instagram, and show them that there are other criteria to inspire them.
Reinforcing the underlying positive values of friendship, camaraderie, curiosity to learn … all of this can also help to find inspiring examples especially of people in their age group, people they can relate to easily identified.
3. If necessary, limit access to social media
In cases where the use of social media is very excessive, a schedule can be set which the teen can access it. However, it must be done by avoiding confrontation and by explaining very well the reason for the measure.
In any case, completely prohibiting access is a bad idea, among other things because it could lead the adolescent to social isolation, especially considering that practically all young people of his age socialize through these platforms. .
The need to seek professional help
In some cases, you have to go to psychotherapy.
Addictions go beyond substance use and can actually result from behaviors that are fully compliant with the law. Addiction goes beyond substance use, because in the end, the action of addiction takes precedence over everything else. A harmful habit that does not correspond to the psyche and the person’s life by completely absorbing their attention.
In the case of young people who need to constantly check their social networks, the problem does not come to be considered a recognized psychiatric disorder in the diagnostic manuals used by mental health professionals (as is the case for example, with drug addiction), but this can be a problem, and it is advisable to undergo psychological therapy.
The key to this is not to stay on the surface: beyond the apparent addiction to social media, there are concrete psychological mechanisms which are operated by these digital platforms. Therefore, to understand what happens to those teens who do not come off the screen, it is necessary to understand why similar drug addicts arise and act accordingly by seeking professional help from psychologists.
- Pantic, jo .; Damjanovic, A .; Todorovic, J .; Topalovic, D .; Bojovic-Jovic, D .; Ristic, S .; Pantic, S. (2012). Association between online social networks and depression in high school students: a view of behavioral physiology. Danubian psychiatry. 24 (1): pages 90 to 93.