Social media addictions IRL: are teenagers actually obsessed?


Freshman elementary education major Stephanie Garcia said she checks social media “every three minutes” when she’s not in class. 

“When I am cut off from [social media] I get a little stressed because I don’t know how to talk to other people without my phone,” Garcia said.

She isn’t alone. 

According to Social Media Today, teens between 15 and 19 years old spend at least three hours a day looking at social media. Eighteen percent of social media users say they can’t go more than a few hours without “checking out what’s happening on social.”

Freshman animal science major Alexis Stuessi said she generally checks her social media every five to 10 minutes, but enjoys taking a break from online conversations.

“It feels good to get away from the drama,” Stuessi said. “Even if it’s not drama that you’re involved in, you see it and it impacts you and your self-esteem.”

South Dakota State counselor Tracy Chapman said she sees “quite a few students who feel that social media is taking up a lot of their time,” which can lead to feelings of exclusion or anxiousness.

“There’s a lot of interaction via texting and emailing and calling and Facebook,” Chapman said. “Then, when it comes time to interact with people face-to-face it makes them feel anxious.”

A 2014 study by USA Today College asked 23 Chicago college students about social media and its impact on their mental state. Twenty out of 23 students believed social media caused anxiety or added stress to a person’s life.

“The effect of social media depends on the person because everybody uses social media in a different way,” Chapman said. 

Gregory Martinez, freshman English major, said he thinks social media is an effective way to stay connected with loved ones, but cannot replace real-life interaction.

“Goodbyes aren’t painful anymore because I know I can still talk to my friends or family,” Martinez said. “However, I don’t think social media will ever be more important than face-to-face discussion … It also becomes a distraction and is the reason I can’t focus on something for more than five seconds without getting bored.”

Martinez believes social media is more of a habit turned obsession than a necessity.

“When I am cut off from social media I actually feel a lot more relaxed,” Martinez said. “Although, I still notice I miss it, and the conditioned habit of reaching into my pocket happens.”