Read at NBC New York
The potential dark side of social media is coming to the forefront as experts raise concerns about the addictive features and negative effects it can have on children. A 21-year-old woman named Alexis Spence shared her personal experience of developing a social media addiction at age 11, which later led to a life-threatening eating disorder. She described constantly scrolling through graphic and traumatizing content that was fed to her through the algorithms of social media platforms. Research has shown that adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media may be at a higher risk for mental health issues.
"I could not stop. I'd be doom scrolling on it, and it was showing me graphic and traumatizing content. It was showing me malnourished children, dying children," the 21-year-old said.
According to data from the Department of Health in New York City, 77% of high school students spend three or more hours daily on screens, indicating a significant portion of young people are excessively using social media. Dr. Isaac Vaghefi, an assistant professor at Baruch College, has conducted surveys and found that individuals are using their phones an average of 200 times a day and spending anywhere from two to eight hours on social media. This constant presence on social media can have detrimental effects on mental health. Klea, one of Dr. Vaghefi's students, participated in a study and decided to change her social media habits after realizing the negative impact it had on her well-being.
"On average, now we are touching our phone 200 times a day, which is plenty. They say, on average, they use it for two hours a day and up to even eight hours a day. So basically, they get on and they are on social media almost constantly," Dr. Vaghefi said.