9 Signs your Child is addicted to Social Media

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Most people, especially children and teens, use the internet every day. Perhaps its most popular use is through social media. Social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any sites where people can share updates, pictures and videos. Websites like YouTube or video games can also be classified as social media platforms.

These platforms enable us to update other people on our day-to-day lives. It’s a great tool to keep up long distance friendships or to share news with family members. However, when people become too engaged in this technology, they can become obsessed with it.

As these sites have only existed for the last two decades, addiction to social media is a relatively new condition. Scientists and doctors are still studying its symptoms and effects.
Many parents worry that their kids spend too much time online or on smartphones. But do you know the symptoms of a possible addiction?
If you think you or a loved one’s social media use is interfering with daily life, contact Clear Recovery now to find out what can be done to help.

Social Media Addiction Symptoms

1) Checking feeds first thing in the morning and the last thing at night

You may notice that your child is on their phone constantly, even early in the morning. If you’ve observed them reaching for the phone right when they wake up, they may have a problem with social media addiction. They shouldn’t have to check their phone before they get up for their morning routine.

Make sure they don’t spend lots of time on their phone before bed. It’s a bad sign when they’re up all hours of the night playing on their phone. This can also cause disruptions in your child’s sleeping pattern and reduce their quality of sleep. Lack of sleep can affect school grades and cause low moods.

2) Loss of interest in extracurricular activities and responsibilities

Having a structured, organized routine is the most beneficial thing for children and teens to have. They should be able to go to school and participate in everyday activities with little to no disruption. 

Spending so much time online that grades slip, or they lose interest in any other activities, is a warning sign. If you notice them exhibiting these symptoms, they may need intervention.

3) Poor real-life communication skills

Though social media helps people keep in touch, this benefit can have negative consequences. Social media allows people to construct an identity online, one that can be hard to let go. This is unlike real life, as people cannot edit face-to-face interactions. 

This phenomenon can either begin or exacerbate feelings of being left out. If your introverted child can become popular through the internet, they can easily become addicted to validation they receive online. On the other hand, extroverts can withdraw from face-to-face conversation and instead prefer communicating online. 

Another signifier of this problem is if they are on social media even when they are out with friends or family. Your teen may use their smart device even when you are attempting to have a conversation with them. Whether they do this to ignore you, as a nervous social habit, or because they feel a compulsion to constantly check their feed lest they miss something; this can be detrimental to their ability to socialize in real life.

4) Online oversharing

Social media addiction can make people unable to enjoy daily activities without posting about it online. Social media addicts will constantly update statuses with their location, or with pictures that show where they are. People post about their pets, purchases, friends and even food.

There is nothing inherently wrong with sharing on social media. It’s constantly updating that can become a problem. Parents should check on how often their child posts and what they are posting.

Children should be educated about the dangers of posting their location online and sharing too much information like where they live or go to school. Strangers have access to this information which can put them in danger.


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5) Social media as escapism

Venting on the internet is an easy way to seek validation and sympathy. It can also be used as an escape from any everyday issues. Misuse of social media can involve sharing problems that should be dealt with privately, like disagreements with friends and family.

Children that find it hard to “fit in” at school might withdraw from socializing and prefer to make friends online. They might vicariously live through people they relate to online and begin to dislike leaving the house. 

Parents—always check in on your child’s physical and emotional health. Spending a lot of time online and talking only about online friends can signal something more serious. Getting to the root of why they prefer to engage online could help to address the issue.

6) All free time is spent online

Though checking social media can be fun, it can cause neglect of other enjoyable activities. Everyone should have a hobby outside of regular responsibilities. Scrolling through social media can replace any interests your child may have previously had.

Checking social media in your free time is fine as long as it isn’t a majority of your free time. Always monitor the amount of time you or a loved one spend on checking their phone. Spending hours checking social media is a tell-tale sign of addiction.

7) Irrational jealousy

People are constantly monitoring each other on the internet. Teens are especially susceptible of jealousy or needing to “fit in.” This can cause resentment of other people on the internet. Following celebrities and influencers who are constantly on vacation and wear designer labels can lead to envy and unhappiness with our own lives. 

Jealousy can in turn make people depressed. The need to make their own life “better” can become unhealthy. They might become more interested in clothes, makeup or latest gadgets to be like their online idols.

8) Anger and restlessness when access is removed

Being away from smart devices with social media access may cause restlessness. This is at its most severe when people can’t look away from a phone for even minutes at a time. Separation from the device can then cause anxiety.

If you notice that they impulsively look at their phone and even become aggressive if you try to remove it, they may have an addiction.

9) Preoccupation with popularity

While everyone likes attention, constantly seeking it out can be a sign of social media addiction. “Likes” are an easy way of quantifying attention. 

Things can quickly get out of hand to where someone becomes upset when their posts don’t get many likes. They might also post things they wouldn’t usually get more likes – like provocative selfies. They could even have an entirely separate persona than they do in real life.

Sometimes, online popularity can become exacerbated the more popular someone gets. Follower count and constant interaction can consume famous “YouTubers” or people on Twitter.


Co-occuring Addiction and Mental Health Issues

Substance use disorders can coincide with mental health or even multiple issues at once. That includes mood, developmental, eating, and behavioral disorders. Clear Recovery Center is equipped to handle a wide variety of co-occurring disorders.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can you treat social media addiction?

Overcoming an addiction to social media is not as simple as taking away your child’s mobile device. Treating social media addiction should be the same as treating any other addiction.

At Clear Recovery Center, we offer a partial hospitalization program. The treatment will last 2-8 weeks, depending on a patient’s individual needs. All of our treatment plans are fully customized to be the best fit for your teen or child. 

The partial hospitalization method involves the patient meeting with a therapist five days a week. These sessions last five hours a day. This allows our therapists to establish a healthy, trusting relationship with their patients. 

We also offer an intensive outpatient program. It most often lasts for 12 weeks. The patient will meet with a professional for three days out of the week, four hours a day. This allows the patient to continue to seek therapy while also adjusting back to their normal life. It is also designed for patients who have already undergone our partial hospitalization program.

Throughout treatment at Clear, patient’s will go on “experiential outings”, which have proven to be invaluable for recovery. These group experiences are essential for re-vitalizing social aptitudes which may have diminished in the wake of addiction. 

Clear Recovery also has other recovery services suitable for social media addiction, including:

  • Case management
  • Referrals and assessments
  • Health and wellness
  • Life skills
  • Support from alumni
  • Family services

How can I support my child at home?

Kids can withdraw from everyday life in favor of social media due to anxiety, bullying or other issues. Always check in with your child’s health. Make sure you listen to their problems without judging or punishing them. Internet addiction can arise through a need for acceptance and reassurance. Helping children see they already have this from family and close friends can go a long way.

Encourage them to participate in real-life, perhaps outdoor activities. While you do this, you can “unplug” with your child. This means that both of you will refrain from social media use from the duration of the activity. This will keep you both present and able to enjoy having fun together without technology.

Contact Us Today!

Even small suspicions can lead to potentially life-threatening decision making and regrets. Nothing is more important than starting the process early

Bottom Line

While being diagnosed with an addiction of any kind is frightening, professionals can help. If you notice any of these symptoms in your child or teen, like social withdrawal or depression, make sure to reach out to them. Let them know that there are people who can help.

Our experienced therapists are ready to treat any level of social media addiction. This includes patients with mild or severe symptoms. 

Call our office at 1 (877) 799-1985 or visit us to book an appointment. We want to help you cope with your teen’s addiction and help them better their life in the real world.

Break the cycle of addiction. Develop tools needed to reintegrate. Create a happy healthy productive life.

There are many options and resources for addiction and mental health rehabilitation recovery solutions. Clear Recovery Center offers the full range of rehabilitation and recovery services and can find the right start for your journey.


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