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San Diego teens noticing the negative effects of too much social media

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Posted at 8:38 AM, Jan 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 22:10:17-05

CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) - A junior at Carlsbad High School, Cassie Cruz spends about five hours a day on social media.

"Most of the time I spend on social media is too much time on social media!" said Cruz.

However, she says compared to other teens, that's only a fraction of their screen time.

"I have some friends that spend five hours on TikTok alone," said Cruz.

According to the Pew Research Center, 95 percent of teens now report having a smartphone or access to one, and 45 percent of teens say they are online on a near-constant basis.

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A social media user since the fifth grade, Cruz says she's starting to notice the harmful effects of social media.

"I think social media definitely takes time away from my homework, my sleep," said Cruz

Dr. Jen Wojciechowski, a psychologist with the Sharp child and adolescent program, says in some ways social media is designed to be addictive.

"We all have cell phones in our pockets. They buzz, they vibrate, they make noises to draw us back to that."

Dr. Jen Wojciechowski says social media dependence is a trend she's seeing in patients.

"Some of the negative outcomes of overuse or addiction to technology or social media might be similar to what you'd see in a substance use disorder as well," said Dr. Wojciechowski.

Teens aren't the only ones glued to their phones, but the damage could be more severe.

"What we know from adolescent brain development is that teens are more impulsive than adults, and they make decisions without fully thinking through the consequences of that. And because there's a digital footprint for all their actions online, it can create more concerns regarding their technology use," said Dr. Wojciechowski.

But there are steps parents can take to reduce the damage from excessive social media use.

"The biggest thing is to set expectations and to understand if technology or social media use is interfering with what you hope for your child."

Dr. Wojciechowski adds that one of the best things parents can do is set a good example for their kids. She says adults are often just as distracted with technology and social media as their kids.

She suggests families find time for a screen-free period where they're not attached or distracted by phones.

Cutting down screen time could allow teens to focus on the positive aspects of social media.

"It allows for a platform to share ideas and memories and communicate with people they may have lost a connection with," said Cruz.

Students like Cruz are realizing five hours of screen time a day is too much, but know they have to find a healthy balance because social media is here to stay.