Written by: Antonio Daskalakis
Almost all kids are tired of hearing the cliche saying from their parents: “Get off your phone! Go outside!” What else are we supposed to do? We grew up in the era of technology. Times have changed, mom.
Even though most of us take what our parents say about our phones with a grain of salt, is there some truth to it? Studies have consistently shown that the top 3 apps that kids today use are TikTok, Snapchat, and Youtube. Most kids don’t listen to their parents about this, but is it really as addicting as people say it is?
The use of social media apps can lead to a physical and psychosocial addiction because it triggers the brain’s reward system to release dopamine, essentially a “feel-good” chemical. According to a study by Harvard University, self-disclosure on social networking sites lights up the same part of the brain that also ignites when taking an addictive substance. The reward area in the brain and its chemical messenger pathways affect decisions and sensations. When someone experiences something rewarding or uses an addictive substance, neurons in the dopamine-producing areas in the brain are activated and dopamine levels rise. Therefore, the brain receives a “reward” and associates the drug or activity with positive reinforcement. In fact, neuroscientists have compared social media interaction to a syringe of dopamine being injected straight into the system.
The brain receives a rush of dopamine and sends it along reward pathways, causing the individual to feel pleasure. Social media provides an endless amount of immediate rewards in the form of attention from others for relatively minimal effort. Paul G. Simone, Vice President and Medical Director of Behavioral Health at Lee Health stated that “There’s growing evidence to suggest that some individuals can develop a dependency on social media that’s not unlike an addiction to alcohol or drugs, their overdependence on social media has led to symptoms typically associated with substance-use disorder.”
Some kids would do anything for approval on the internet, such as changing things about themselves, like the way they look, or their interests and personalities. With all that said, what do you think about what your parents say now?