When someone mentions the word ‘addiction’ most people instantly think of alcohol and drugs. That’s what I would automatically think of if someone mentioned addiction to me. When I typed ‘addiction’ in to Google I was shown a list of websites about how to get help with drugs, alcohol and sex addictions. There was not one website which you could click on to get help with a Social Media addiction. Danah Boyd discusses teenagers having an addiction to Social Media in her book, ‘It’s Complicated, the social lives of networked teens’.
Social Media is a daily activity for a lot of people, but for others, they could be classed as being addicted to it. I believe Csikszentmihalyi’s definition of ‘flow’ is very similar to addiction. “Flow is the state of complete and utter absorption.” (Csikszentmihalyi in Boyd. 2014. Pg 80)
Teenagers are willing to admit that they are addicted, probably because they don’t see it as being a bad thing. “When asked about the unintended or negative implications of their social media activities, the teenage admitted they are addicted to and easily distracted by their social connectivity.” (Abdullah and Chan. 2016. Pg 200)
Boyd talks about the media coverage that teenage social media users get. She says, “the current generation of youth is uncontrollably hooked on these new technologies and unable to control their lives.” (Boyd, 2014, p78) In some cases this is true, but most of the time, teenagers are desperate to speak to their friends. In school when peers only get an hour’s break, this doesn’t satisfy them enough to go without talking to their friends until the next day. As Boyd states, “Most teens aren’t addicted to social media; if anything they’re addicted to each other.” (Boyd. 2014. Pg 80)
After reading further into this, more and more theorists are making the same comments. “Social media sites appeal to adolescents as it helps them get connected to their friends.” (How & Yi Ren. 2016) Many parents assume that they’re teenagers are up to no good online, when really they are talking to their friends. “Teens aren’t looking to hide; they just want privacy.” (Boyd. 2014. Pg 59) Boyd’s chapter on privacy links well with addiction because there are some things that teens only want to talk to their friends about. They don’t want their parents listening in.
When I was reading the chapter about addiction, I was shocked to read about some parents who don’t let their children out of the house because it’s too dangerous. If their children can’t interact with their friends after school outdoors, they will automatically go to social media as it is their only other option. One student said how she “felt socially disconnected because she did not have time to connect with friends outside of classes.” (Myra cited in Boyd. 2014. Pg 89)
When I was writing my dissertation, I chose ‘obsession’ as one of my concepts. I’ve found that a lot of what Boyd has spoken about links to the topic of fans being obsessed with celebrities and wanting to talk to them online. “Social media has created huge communities which connect millions of fans in a way that was never possible before.” (Simpson, T. cited in Wyatt, D. 2013)
I believe that we do live in a dangerous world, but as children grow up, they want to do the same as their friends. Preventing them from using Social Media sites cuts them off from their friends and they will feel like they are missing out. When Boyd talks about a teenager she spoke to, she says, “she craves time with friends and uses any excuse to go online to do so.” (Boyd. 2014. Pg 91) I understand parents’ worries about their children accessing websites they shouldn’t, but parental controls can be used. Banning teenagers from Social Media in my eyes is a big mistake and is not fair on the teens’ social lives.
Boyd, D. (2014) It’s complicated: The social lives of Networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.
How, D.O.S. and Yi Ren, T. (2016) Navigation the Cyberworld with your child A guide for parents, teachers and counsellors. Asia: Marshall Cavendish International.
Abdullah, A.D.A. and Chan, C.M.L. (2016) cited in Social media: The good, the bad, and the ugly: 15th IFIP WG 6.11 conference on e-business, e-services, and e-society, I3E 2016, Swansea, UK, September 13-15, 2016, proceedings. Edited by Yogesh Kumar Dwivedi, Antonis C. Simintiras, Salah Al-Sharhan, Nripendra P. Rana, Emma L. Slade, Marc Clement, Marijn Janssen, M. N. Ravishankar, and Matti Mäntymäki. Switzerland: Springer Nature.
Simpson, T. cited in Wyatt, D. (2013) Directing Directioners: Obsessive One direction fans subject of new documentary from channel 4. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/directing-directioners-obsessive-one-direction-fans-subject-of-new-documentary-from-channel-4-8601218.html (Accessed: 12 December 2015).