Social Media Addiction Help: Taking Action as Parents
Social media addiction help is a new topic for parents, children, and treatment professionals alike. There has been recent growing concern that teens are replacing drug and alcohol use with social media addictions. Experts and social media users alike have stated that social media is quickly taking the place of drugs and alcohol and that the effects can be similar. Research has demonstrated that receiving a “like” or positive interaction on posts results in a dopamine high- affecting the brain in the same way a hug does.
Social Media Addiction Help: Where to Start
It’s important to remember that abusers of social media apps are different than abusers of online gaming. While similar neuro pathways are activated in both cases, the meaning of the overuse is quite different.
For teens that need social media addiction help, there is often a need on the part of the child to use social media for both identity development and the establishment of intimacy.
Individual Therapy for Social Media Addiction
For a therapist in private practice, there is a goldmine of useful information in a child’s social media account. One of the major hurdles for a therapist to cross in outpatient therapy is to get past any defense mechanism the child presents.
With access to a child’s social media accounts, the therapist is privy to a stream of consciousness crafted by the child over a certain period of time. We see how the child reacted to stress, frustration, anger, jealousy, rivalries, and excitement. We also see when a child had a need that was unmet, and how a post on social media might have tried to fill that need.
Simply put, a child’s social media account can be a clear window into the thought processes, struggles, and coping skills they currently employ.
Social Media Addiction Help: When Enough is Enough
Adolescents and teens can run into problems with social media for many reasons. When the focus is on a cell phone or smart device over homework or other duties, an intervention is warranted. While research is new in this subject area, it’s generally accepted that there are social reinforcers that stimulate the reward centers of the brain. For example, Facebook or Instagram ‘likes’ and shares and Twitter retweets are a positive reinforcer of using social media which enables the user to experience a dopamine rush and the behavior of returning to social media seeking out more social reinforcement.
Inappropriate Social Media Use
Unlike video game addiction, overuse of social media also has a clear connection to identity development. Young people create profiles to establish an online identity or persona. Through this persona, social media users present their idealized selves to others.
Due to the disconnected or even anonymous nature of online communication, people often say things to each other that they would not say in a face-to-face conversation. For children who are isolated at home and their main method of communication is social media, it’s easy to get sucked into a pattern of negative online interactions.
At Summerland Camps, we teach practical skills to deal with online bullying. We show campers how to block negative users and the best ways to respond (or not respond) to others online.
“Sexting” and Other Inappropriate Use
At Summerland Camps, our counselors are available to sit down with the camper and go over their social media accounts. We don’t force the camper to give their passwords over, but if they are ready to work on improving online interactions, we are available to help.
Sometimes a camper’s social media accounts are beyond salvaging. This may be the case if there are too many negative “friends” on their page who are there for the wrong reasons, and there are too much history-making post comments or posting photos that are inappropriate.
In this case, social media addiction help is best achieved by starting over with a fresh Facebook or Instagram page. Summerland Camps staff can help the child pick out an appropriate profile photo, and appropriate description statements, and discuss guidelines for making posts or comments to posts.
At a high level, Summerland Camps staff will go over past posts with a camper and ask, “What need were you trying to fill by making this post?” If we can help our campers understand these needs, we can then provide practical guidance on using social media and ultimately achieve the goal of appropriate social media use.
First Steps with Social Media Addiction Help
A good first step is talking with your child about your concerns. At Summerland Camps, we suggest a family approach whereas in a family unit, the use of technology is limited to certain times of the day and prohibited from family dinners where the child can interact and work on their identity needs without social media. It’s also through family interaction that children learn their parent’s coping skills and get the opportunities to practice interactions outside of their peer group.
If changing the family culture and setting up a proper structure is not enough, families are then encouraged to contact Summerland Camps to discuss if the camp is a good fit.