Social media addiction and concerns in Virginia foster care

Social media addiction and concerns in Virginia foster care

Social Media Addiction and Foster Kids in Virginia

All kids, not just kids in foster care, can suffer from this addiction.

Social media addiction and concerns about it are impacting children and young adults all over the United States. People use social media for various reasons, but there is no denying that media usage has increased over the past few years.

Cell phones provide easy access to social networking, social platforms, video content, and other forms of online media. Using your cell phone may be the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you fall asleep.

Children and adults can feel lost and helpless when they don't have a piece of technology around them to keep them connected. Most of the world is addicted to social media, to the point where it has become a norm and isn't seen as an issue.

The fact is, social media addiction is an issue, and it is affecting adults, teens, and children far more than one may realize. Statistics show that 89% of teenagers have a smartphone, and 70% use social media multiple times a day. 38% of young people report that social media has a negative impact on how they feel about themselves. It is a fact that 210 million people worldwide suffer from social media & internet addiction.

You may find it easy to blame your child for not having more self-control. However, we need to keep in mind that social media platforms have thousands of Ph.D.-level researchers spending billions of dollars trying to figure out how to get users to spend more time on their social media platforms. The more daily active users, the more money the platform makes.

What have the researchers found that is making us go back for more of the same scrolling for hours each day? Dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical produced by our brains that plays the starring role in motivating behavior. This chemical gets released when we take a bite of delicious food, when we have sex, after we exercise, and when we have successful social interactions.

With that in mind, every "like" and shared post rewards us for beneficial behaviors (using social media). It motivates us to repeat them (causing us to go back to look at social media again). A positive social stimulus will result in a release of dopamine, reinforcing whatever behavior preceded it.

Additionally, our smartphones provide us with a virtually unlimited supply of social stimuli. Every notification, whether it's a "like" on Instagram or a Facebook messenger notification, it has the potential to be a positive social stimulus and dopamine influx.

Why is this unlimited supply of social stimuli a problem? Both negative and positive social stimuli can negatively impact your overall mental health.

Sometimes the artificially high levels of stimulation can alter the brain's sensitivity to the less intense stimuli of everyday life. Over time, this can lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, sleep deprivation, envy/jealousy, communication issues, and lack of in-person socialization skills.

Overusing social media may be affecting your daily life and your mental health. If you think you, your child, or your foster child might be overusing social media, here are some tips to decrease use.

Tips to Decrease Usage of Social Media

  • Turn off your notifications for a minimum of a few hours each day
  • Utilize apps that help you engage in healthy behaviors, such as meditation
  • Use an alarm clock instead of relying on your phone as an alarm to prevent you from using your phone the minute you wake up
  • Delete unnecessary apps from your phone (i.e., games you never play, social media platforms that decrease your self-esteem)

Turn off Notifications

Turn off the notifications to all applications to calm your world. Notifications are the dealers to the addiction, a signal for you to check your phones and feed the addiction.

Social media addiction statistics show this has been one of the best ways to eliminate your addiction. Notifications directly affect your mood since you won't be able to do the task at hand once you indulge in checking social media.

Limit Your Time Spent Online

The 15-minute rule usually does wonders to curb your desire to pick up your phone again. You could also set a 'No Phone' rule in various settings, such as at work, while doing homework, or at the dinner table.

Additionally, a lot of phones allow you to set a daily limit on how much time you spend on a particular app. This can be helpful if there are one or two apps that you or your child are wasting a lot of time on.

Keep Yourself Busy

Concentrating on things close to you can help you decrease your phone usage. Interacting with family and friends can mean more quality time spent with them and less time spent with social media platforms.

Picking up a new hobby or skill could effectively distract from the appealing short videos and live streams online.

All in all, the internet and phones can be valuable tools to have in your back pocket. However, when spending more time online than with friends or family, there can be real psychological and social consequences.

Statistics of people attached to their social media devices, you are not alone!

Facebook: 2.3 billion users

Instagram: 1.1 billion users

Youtube: 1.9 billion users

WhatsApp: 950 million users

LinkedIn: 564 million users

Reddit: 542 million users

Twitter: 327 million users

Pinterest: 201 million users

Snapchat: 187 million daily users

Social media addiction in foster care

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