Living in a world where social media is at the tip of our fingers, it’s tempting to go online everyday. Social media has become a basic need instead of a momentary distraction and has officially become an addiction.

Teens always have something to do; they are either doing what they’re told, or working out their thumbs on their phones. Instagram and Snapchat are two of the most popular platforms on social media and teens have a need to either keep up a streak on Snapchat or keep up with their timeline on Instagram. Social media apps (such as Instagram and Snapchat) are designed to be user friendly and meant to become addictive. According to, a CBC Marketplace travelled to Dopamine Labs, a startup in Venice, California. The lab uses computer coding to influence behavior, making users want to spend more time or go on frequently. One technique to get people to go online everyday are notifications, according to Ramsay Brown, who studied neuroscience at the University of Southern California. Push notifications that pop up on your screen such as comments on photos, messages and likes trigger people to open their phones to reply, check on how many likes a photo has reached or to like a comment. This also makes teens feel the need to be noticed online whether it’s through a streak, messaging, likes, views and even online dating. By wanting attention, it can lead to some consequences, such as pressuring others to look perfect, according to Teresa Newsome on Research has also proven that the amount of time people spend on social media can lead to depression. With social media exposing teens to photos consisting of beauty expectations and rich lifestyles, it can make teens (or anybody) doubt their own image and life. By living with this mindset, it can lower self-esteem, start depression and lead to anxiety, even though much of what is viewed is staged and not real.

People are in an age where they rely on social media, according to Riverside science and math teacher, Ms. Elizabeth Kim. “I think it’s more like we need social media, and it is addictive,” said Kim. “Social media is any tool that can be used in an affective, productive way or it can be misused.” Others agree. According to Riverside grade 9 student Emma Morgan, social media has its ups and downs, such as how social media enables people to connect, but some users can use it to harm others. “People would rather be on social media than to interact with regular people,” said Morgan, who goes on social media for an hour to an hour and a half a day. She concluded that overall, social media can be a positive thing. “Whenever I get bored, I like to go on Instagram,” said Riverside grade 9 student, Emily Shannon. Other Riverside grade 9’s can agree that the main reason why they go online is when they’re bored and feel like they have nothing else to do.

Social media also presents an easier way of communication, giving it a bigger reason why it’s addictive: texting, which is a much more comfortable way for teens to be more confident while conversing with someone, rather than face-to-face communication with the worry about what to say. But a downside is that it’s difficult to see the emotions and reactions of others. According to Rachel Ehkme, from, clinical psychologist Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair commented that, “there’s no question kids are missing out on very critical social skills. In a way, texting and online communicating- It’s not like it creates a nonverbal learning disability, but it puts everybody in a nonverbal disabled context, where body language, facial expression, and even the smallest kinds of vocal reactions are rendered invisible.” Teens feel more comfortable socializing online, but as a teenager, face-to-face communication is important because it’s the base of any healthy relationship and how to maintain one.

According to, it’s official that the generation of 13-17-year-olds are the first to spend their entire teen years surrounded by technology and stated that Common Sense Media data shows that teens are spending a third of their days online. Phones are always with us, or within our reach, whether awake or asleep. According to, children have been using social media since elementary school and the most popular social media where underage children sign up is Facebook, an app that is for 13+ users. A little over half of eight to 16-year-olds admitted that they had ignored the age limit.

Social media is resourceful, but that isn’t the only reason why we use it. It shows us a new form of fame, entertainment and overall, a new way of communicating, which is one of the big reasons why social media is so addicting.

photo courtesy of, Marcela De Vivo