No one can deny that our world is much different than it was 10 years ago.
Since Facebook opened its space to people (other than college students only) in 2006 then, our world has seen the birth of the social media addiction. And the worst affected are teenagers.
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. Sad, but true.
So how did this happen? How did today’s youth succumb to an obsession such as needing to check their social media profiles on a constant basis?
There are many reasons, and here are three arguably most important of them:
- Need for inclusion.
We’ve all dealt with pressure growing up, and some people are more susceptible than others. But no one wants to be the only one who didn’t get invited to a party.
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 born in the century of high developed technology never experienced a world where people connect and include each other outside of social media. So if other people are doing it, they feel the need to do it, too.
- 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. If you got viral, you have a chance to become 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.
- Need for affection.
Usually, we think of affection in a physical sense. 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 can 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.
-based on TeenSafe webpage