Not a Phone-y Addiction: How Social Media Hurts Teens

Based on “The Social Dilemma” featured on Netflix. To learn more, visit thesocialdilemma.com.On January 26, 2020, a new documentary was released on Netflix, “The Social Dilemma,” with the purpose of bringing awareness to something we mindlessly use, or rather are used by, on a daily basis; the corporate social media platforms. The main point of this netflix documentary is the following; the more addicted the users, the more profit the technological companies make. Therefore, the tech companies keep getting more efficient at manipulating their users. Essentially, those companies take advantage of psychological weaknesses of the human mind. 

“There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.””

— Edward Tuftle

Based on the movie, “The Social Dilemma.” Visit www.thesocialdilemma.com for more info.

The documentary highlights the effect of social media on, perhaps the most vulnerable, teenagers. An average teenager spends over seven hours on their phone everyday. This statistic was confirmed by a poll conducted, concerning Panther Creek students. The majority reported to spend more than six hours on their phone each day. The average time keeps increasing, as technology continues to advance in strengthening people’s addiction to their advice. The mobile phone was only around for 37 years, meaning that for most of human existence, phones were not a part of our everyday life. Today, most students reported that they could only go for up to two days without their phone. While most students reported to never check their phone during family dinner, an overwhelming majority reported to check their phone about every five minutes in school.

We conducted interviews with Panther Creek students to learn more about their relationship with their devices. When asked a student how many times she picks up her phone in a day, she responded, “Probably like a hundred.” When asked, “What do you think your average screen time is?” the student answered “Seven hours, six hours, something like that.” In reality, his average daily screen time amounted to over eight hours. When asked another student, “Would you consider yourself addicted to your phone?” She answered, “yeah, kind off. I need my phone to, like, talk to my friends and it’s like entertainment so I don’t know what I would do without it.”

          The important question is, Why is all this an issue? Research has shown a strong correlation between the usage of social media and an increase in depression rates, especially among young adults. According to a 5,000 person study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology, higher social media use correlated with self-reported declines in mental and physical health and life satisfaction. 

          There is more misinformation on social media than ever before in history. According to the New York Times, “the # of countries with political disinformation campaigns on social media doubled in the past 2 years.” According to the documentary, on Twitter, fake news spreads six times faster than true news. 

          The world is said to be more divided than it has ever been in history. People have shown to become more extreme with their views with social media usage. According to an internal Facebook report of 2018, 64% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms steered them there.

          So what is the solution to this issue? According to the documentary, it is best to limit or eliminate our social media usage. The audience is also encouraged to talk about the information  mentioned in the documentary, as increased awareness and public pressure may be the only way to bring change and urge the social media platforms for more humane technology.