By: Meghan Mathias

What is Social Media Addiction?

The majority of you may be reading this article because you are desperately seeking ways to lower that screen time. Whether we want to admit it or not, if we partake in social media, it is generally difficult to stop. You tell yourself you’re just taking a small break from your homework to check your Instagram DM’s, next thing you know, you’ve fallen down an explore page hole and have been watching videos about TikTok drama for 4 hours. However ashamed we may be of it, we have all been there. There’s a reason why we get on social media and can’t stop scrolling and there’s a reason we itch to open up our apps at all hours of the day. This reason may be more scientific than you might have thought.

The Science Behind it All

In 2019, Statista reported that 45% of U.S. online users aged 18-22 and 52% of users aged 23-38 reported being somewhat or completely addicted to social media. What is the reasoning behind this phenomenon? Surprisingly, we can look to science for the answers. Harvard University claims that Dopamine, often called the happiness chemical, is released in our brains when using social media. This is the same chemical our brains release when we win prizes or eat good food. Does this mean that our brains have evolved to register “likes” and “retweets” as motivating rewards? Yup! Social media is designed to trigger this chemical in our brains so it is designed to be addictive.

Okay…What Can I Do About It?

Although your inability to stop scrolling may be backed up by science and partly out of your control, there are still things you can (and should!) do to cure your addiction.

  • Set screen time limits on your smartphone (you can do this in the Settings section of most phones) for specific or all social media apps to set healthy boundaries.
  • Join a club and get involved at school! The connections you make online will never compare to the connections you can make in your community.
  • If all else fails, try to make social media a better place to spend so much time on. Be wary of who you follow and how they make you feel.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some different ways that you could spend your free time that is more productive than scrolling on social media?
  2. Do you think you spend too much time on social media, or just the right amount of time? Why do you think that?
  3. Could spending less time on social media positively affect the people in your real life? If so, why do you think that is?
  4. What is your favorite social media app and why is it your favorite? Do you think you could ever stop using it altogether?


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