Itching for Likes: Teens and Social Media 

By Julia Kemp

Almost every single teen who uses social media credits it for harmful social consequences, yet Newport Academy tests show that 92% of teens continue to use the addicting and obsession-inducing social tool. The most evil aspect of social media is that it was created specifically to attract and addict teens. Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter are designed by marketers and programmers who know the science behind the teenage mind, and are knowledged in ways to keep teens scrolling. For example, Instagram’s formula for likes and comments creates a specific, chemically rewarding effect in the minds of teens. Studies have shown that teens actually feel a rush of dopamine, similar to that of a drug. According to New York University professor, Adam Alter, “When someone likes an Instagram post, or any content that you share, it’s a little bit like taking a drug.” Atler explains that “because it’s not guaranteed that you’re going to get likes on your posts, (…) the unpredictability of that process makes it so addictive.” The random and rewarding notifications satisfy our minds, and the dopamine rush associated with likes makes us crave more.

Though social media addiction may not be as physically harmful as other substance addictions, it does lead to harmful consequences that impact teen lives. There’s no doubt that social media portrays unrealistic and idealized versions of people’s lives; teens who spend a majority of their day on social media often have an unrealistic and idealized image of what life should look like. As a result, teens have a higher risk of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self esteem issues. Though social media use itself might not physically damage a teen, the physical and mental consequences that follow permanently and harmfully impact teen lives.