Looking around, you will find that most people are engaged on their mobile phones, largely unaware of their surroundings. Among them, a huge chunk belongs to teens and young adults continuously glued to their mobile phones, talking, chatting or just scrolling. 

Of all the uses of this powerful device, the most used feature is social networking sites. Facebook is the leading social network site, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat etc. 

Social media users worldwide are about 4.48 billion; on average, people spend about 2.5 hours daily on social media sites.

Such massive and extended hours of use make it essential to understand whether social media is good or terrible, whether social media addiction is a reality or a hype, whether it is a solution or a problem and whether it enhances life to impact life adversely.

What is Social Media Addiction?


Indian girl using social media


Social media addiction is a condition where there is an uncontrollable and irresistible urge to use social media sites, gradually increasing duration of use, spending more time than usual along with apprehensions and cravings when unable to use. 

This leads to a state where there is a constant fear and concern of missing something when they are not online. The dependency and addiction hamper the other important social, educational and occupational functioning areas. 

Social media addiction in adolescents and young adults

Social media addiction has become a big problem in teens and young adults. It was estimated that by 2022, active social media users would reach around 4.48 billion. In India, there are approximately 4.5 million social media users.

Various studies and research on social media addiction have estimated that around 210 million people worldwide struggle with internet and social media addictions.

Various popular forms of social media include Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, LinkedIn Blogger etc.

Impact of Social Media Sites on our lives

 Let’s understand how social networking sites impacted our lives

When we talk about social networking, it usually does not refer to what we are doing but reflects what we are. Nowadays, for most people, the people’s social networking status of always-on has become the status quo. 

Across the generations, social media and social networking sites are perceived very differently. These social networking sites are tapping the fundamental needs of human beings, and they offer the magnitude of possibilities for social support and self-expression.

As we continue to explore the extent of the impact of social media on the youth of today’s generation, a fundamental question is whether there are any benefits of social media. Social media can be an essential tool for identity development and exploration in today’s world. 

It also provides peer engagement and aspirational development in the youth. When the child identifies with the same kind of peer and explores in a positive direction, it increases their self-esteem. The reach of social media is beyond physical boundaries, which offers more extensive social support to persons who are not reachable for material support. 

Many children, adolescents, and youth who have difficulty accepting and disclosing themselves in the real world find it easy to explore and reveal themselves in a better way on social media. This way, they enhance their self-esteem and lead to better identity development. 

How to identify Social Media Addiction

Extensive and excessive use of social media sites brings the gamut of the problem and can be considered an addiction. Excessive indulgence in social networking leads to mood alterations, numbing effects, and mood modifications. 

As the use increases, tolerance develops, which leads to the use of more and more social networking sites. When unable to use, withdrawal symptoms occur, such as distress, restlessness, palpitations, fear of missing out etc. The individual feels the loss of control over themselves leads to various conflicts. 

There may also be conflicts with other family members; their social environment leads to impairment of work and education and reduced quality of life. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a pervasive apprehension that other individuals might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent; it leads to greater engagement with social networking sites, lower mood, lower well-being and reduced life satisfaction. 

Individuals also show features of NOMOPHOBIA, i.e. No Mobile Phone Phobia, which is an excessive fear of losing their mobile phones, and their connectivity on social networking sites.

Cost of social media addiction


Girl using phone


Everything worth comes with a price to pay. Social media addiction impacts the individual’s physical, mental, and social well-being. Sedentary lifestyle obesity, muscular weakness, nutritional deficiencies, defective poster and other related problems occur with excessive use. 

Extensive involvement in social media leads to social isolation, identity problem, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, deterioration in academic and occupational areas etc.


Physical Symptoms

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic derangements
  • Muscular weakness
  • Pain 
  • Fatigue
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Defective posture
  • Bone and joint-related problems


Psychological Symptoms

  • Social isolation
  • Aloofness and loneliness 
  • Identity problems
  • Stress and tension
  • Poor attention and concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability and anger issues
  • Panic disorder
  • Suicidal thoughts and ideations


 Social problems

  • Conflict with parents and family members
  • Conflict with teachers and peers
  • Academic and educational deterioration
  • Occupational deterioration
  • Poor tolerance

Another critical concern is that many individuals become the victims of cyberbullying, being stuck in unwanted relationships, which may lead to dangerous consequences.


Social networking site addiction management is complex and challenging, especially among Adolescents and young adults.

We need to develop individualised strategies and plans to combat this pertinent issue. 

Providing education to the patient, family members, and caregivers regarding the social, physical and mental impact of social media networking site addictions is crucial in management.

Some helpful Tips to Handle the Situation

  • The only means to reduce the frequency and intensity of use is by placing more responsibility on the individual for their health and well-being.
  • We need to gradually increase the period of abstinence by strictly limiting the duration of use.
  • Individuals should be encouraged to do productive work and increase functionality during abstinence.
  • We need to equip them with better-balanced strategies and healthy lifestyle modifications, which include good physical activity, real-time socialisation, adequate sleep and engagement in educational work.
  • We also need to identify the underlying psychological problems of our teens and young adults and should make efforts to rectify them.
  • These strategies will lead them to maturity and self-discipline in social media use.

Internet and social media addiction in adolescents and young adults is not hype but a reality of today’s time. We need more education and awareness to identify the problem for proper management. 

Stakes here are high as it costs our young and brilliant brains, who are also our future. We can avert the situation by being more connected, aware, vigilant and supportive of our teens and young adults. 

It is essential and wise to consult an expert for better understanding and support as the internet, and social media addiction is a significant physical and mental health-related concern which disrupts the daily routine life activity and deteriorates the quality of life.


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