an addiction that cannot be seen

The rise of active users on social media is growing like wildfire. According to the latest report from Hootsuite and We’re Socialthe total number of social platform users worldwide is more than 4.6 billion people, or nearly 60% of the world’s population is connected to networks.

Social networks are part of everyday life, they have become an indispensable tool for many, it is even a Work habits for the others. A large part of the population spends the day with their heads down and their eyes fixed on the screen of the mobile. This daily scenario can cause negative effects that are apparently not so easy to distinguish.

Although a high percentage of users use the networks by obligation, most do it by simple entertainment. All generations are present on social networks, although more and more professionals are finding that the use of these tools begins at an early age.

Generation Z, also known as the Internet Generation, is growing up with mobile devices at their fingertips, so from an early age they are establishing relationships with screens. It is very common that from an early age children are calmed or entertained by putting a screen in front of them. A fact that although it helps at a specific time, in the long term, little ones can develop Negative effects. Despite the fact that minors take longer to create a personal account on a network, access to digital tools via their parents’ mobile phone makes them attractive from the outset for the use of new technologies.

“Despite the fact that before the age of 14 they could not, according to regulations, access social networks, the truth is that even from the age of 11 or 12 they open profiles in different social networks”, as indicated by the psychologist of the LAR Association of Córdoba (Rehabilitated Associated Players), Ángela Muñoz.

The psychology professional refers to a study by Camilo José Cela University (2018) in educated teenagers at the ESO, where it emerges, among other data, that more than half of the population surveyed makes problematic use of mobile phones, 28.4% show risky use, 21% abusive use and 8% show addiction . And in addition, 43.5% of adolescents present problematic behaviors in the use of WhatsApp, 21% make use of the risk and 8% indicate an addiction.

Instagram and Tiktok are the favorite networks of young people, able to spend several hours in front of the screens to navigate between love and messages, but at what point do you create a addiction? From LAR, Muñoz lists a long list of factors that lead to suspicion that the use of networks is inappropriate.

when they feel abstinence at times when they don’t have access to it, i.e. nervousness and impatience when they don’t have access to it or are deprived of it, when going online is the first thing they do upon waking and the last thing before falling asleep. When they are constantly consulted and used despite carrying out other activities (walking, driving, eating, cleaning or school…). Another symptom is the need for share everything what you experience throughout the day, all the places you are, your thoughts and your emotions. Compare your own life with what you see on other people’s profiles thinking that other people’s is better, having the need to continuously increase followers and receive the maximum love possible, and if not, being overwhelmed by negative feelings or when they spend more time communicating via social networks with their friends and family than in person and in fact prefer it.

how to deal with this addiction? “First, prevention,” says Muñoz. “It is essential to inform mothers and fathers of the existing danger and that they have the recommendations and guidelines to follow to avoid future behavioral addictions, such as the ones we are talking about.”

Most prevention programs are aimed at young people in school, however, if the families they do not have the necessary information and do not know how to act in different scenarios “it will be difficult for these boys and girls to control the use they will make of these tools in the future”, explains the psychologist.

“Mothers and fathers must be encouraged to go to places of tips and that they inform themselves before deciding when it is time to offer a screen as an entertainment option”. The psychologist specifies that when an addiction already exists or the problem worsens, it is necessary to address professionals to initiate psychological treatment.

This is why a collaborative role of families is necessary so that young people can accept this dependence and, therefore, achieve to take down networks. The psychologist and director of the Ítaca practice, Miguel Valenzuela, points out that “a lot depends on the social and family environment, on what can be offered to the young person as a substitute for this type of behavior”.

The need to involve families is essential for them to collaborate with the new routines and activities that adolescents begin to discover once they leave the networks. “We have to teach that there are other options that can give a increased personal gratification“, explains the psychologist.

Valenzuela comments that “most of the problems we call psychological are problems of personal interrelationship, someone who has good social relationships, is comfortable with his family environment, work and between friends, he will hardly take refuge on social networks”.

Young people who do not have an active social life look for her on the networks. Although they are not able to generate interaction with other people, they manage to find this reciprocity on the Internet. “They usually receive reinforcement situations that they may not have in their personal life”, although these actions may have behind “eating disorders, depressive or anxiety, because you compare yourself to role models that you consider real and it’s very frustrating,” said the professional.

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