We’re addicted to social media, and we have no idea why

Written by Staff Writer by Lauren Larson, CNN

Social media, paired with the relative ease of sharing stories on digital platforms such as Instagram, is leading to a generation of people who are less trustful of experts and less optimistic about their chances of achieving their goals, according to a new book.

“People have an exaggerated expectation of their ability to successfully navigate the world of social media,” says Sarah Green, the author of “The Generation M Mixology.”

“There is also an overpowering amount of pressure to live up to the perfect social media selfie,” adds Green, the senior editor at The Atlantic .

While some people embrace the idea of being a social media influencer to reach new audiences or gain business opportunities, others have found themselves exposed to too much of a bad thing — criticism and outright negativity — because of their dependence on posts and videos, according to Green.

If the mom I used to be is making me feel so alone 🙁 this post was actually a made up occasion because I was having such a bad day for a slew of reasons. Stop sending me so many pictures for me to “like” because I feel so alone 🙁. I see this a lot! Do you need any help or validation? @jillhorn_elle please thank her! she ended up staying and I totally wish we could have talked! I need some help with this post! It needs color! pic.twitter.com/XueJn1c6nU — Catherine🌻 (@katsfrocksky) May 4, 2018

The first generation growing up with no real limits

While their peers in other developed countries tend to be even more focused on social media, the United States is developing a group of adults that has no meaningful boundaries or boundaries of thought when it comes to the movement, says Green.

“I don’t think our country has ever had a generation where there wasn’t a bit of a self-consciousness about sharing everything,” says Green. “Certainly not with this group of people who grew up with zero limitations on when, where and how they engage.”

Green blames a problem similar to the one she’s seen in international studies of young people: a degree of narcissism that has pushed young people to simply accept all the problems and pain — and opinions — of others.

This self-absorption has blurred the lines between social media users and their followers and an overconfidence in their abilities, which has resulted in an “influence gap” with its citizenry — or lack thereof.

This leaves an overconfidence gap with its citizenry — or lack thereof. Credit: Michael Tures

Perceptions of experts

The term “influence gap” was coined in 2013 to explain the ways adults commonly respond to children and teens with an exaggerated view of their capabilities to achieve the impossible. That relatively rare occurrence is not uncommon among children who live with a parent who struggles with mental illness and alcohol abuse.

Some experts have recently started to use the term to describe parents whose children are raised in a home that is both emotionally disconnected and cyberscared for — which can be a deeply self-critical environment.

Similarly, a growing number of parents have said their digital dependence on social media is contributing to a failure to develop genuine, authentic human relationships.

According to a recent study, mothers’ social media use is disproportionately linked to emotions of self-confidence, sadness, and anger.

What can parents do?

While solutions vary based on the type of addiction found, experts have begun to develop computer-based tools to help parents manage their digital addictions. Researchers have come up with tools for addicts to block disturbing websites, take “digital detox” days, or monitor the amounts of their own social media activity.

While many parents have long managed media use at home, Green says there is a growing understanding that social media is simply one more facet of Internet-mediated social interactions.

Green also cautions that while parents are increasingly spending more time, money and attention on their children’s Internet use, little is being done to help children feel less dependent on the online world to fill in for real-life social interactions.

Leave a Comment