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Statistics on Addiction to Social Media
As social media use becomes more accepted and expected, more people are beginning to experience the real-world negative impacts of social media addiction.
Millennials and Gen Z comprise the largest number of online users, but anyone can develop an addiction to social media.
By better understanding how social media addiction affects each age group, ethnicity, and gender, we can better identify who’s more at risk for social media addiction and provide treatment before lasting emotional and physical harm can occur.
How Common Is Social Media Addiction?
Rates of social media addiction are sadly growing each year. With 56.8% of the world’s population active on social media, it’s believed that rates of social media addiction will also rise over the coming years.
According to research from the University of Michigan, an estimated 210 million people worldwide suffer from addiction to social media and the internet.
Regarding US statistics, California State University reports an estimated 10% or 33.19 million Americans are addicted to social media compared to the average person.
Social Media Addiction in Young People
The effect of social media addiction on young people has been a growing topic of concern. Many mental health professionals worry that children and teens are particularly at risk for social media addiction.
Such concern is due to the way social media platforms encourage endless scrolling, impulsive behaviors, and the need for instant gratification.
For children and teens, whose brains are still developing, social media risks rewiring young brains to depend on instant rewards and addictive behaviors.
Young social media users aged 18 to 22 account for a shocking 40% of all Americans addicted to social media.
According to research from Common Sense, teens average 7 hours and 22 minutes of screen time per day, and kids 8–12 years old get an average of 4 hours and 44 minutes of screen time per day.
Damaging Effects of Social Media Addiction on Young People
Data from Statista provides a deeper look into the negative effects of social media use reported by US teenagers.
Out of the 1,141 respondents aged 13 to 17, teens reported that:
- 70% felt left out or excluded when using social media
- 43% have deleted social media posts due to receiving too few likes
- 43% felt bad about themselves if no one liked or commented on their posts
- 35% reported experiencing cyberbullying
One of the most serious risks social media addiction poses for young people is increased thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
Research from San Diego State University revealed that 7 in 10 teens who use social media for over 5 hours are at higher risk of committing suicide.
Social Media Addiction by Social Media Platforms
While it’s hard to say which social media site is the most addictive, the data shows which platforms experience the most screen time.
YouTube and Facebook are by far the most used online platforms, with Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram following close behind.
The Pew Research Center reports what percentage of Americans use the top social media apps every single day:
- 70% of US adults use Facebook daily
- 59% of US adults use Snapchat daily
- 59% of US adults use Instagram daily
- 46% of US adults use Twitter daily
- 54% of US adults use Youtube daily
Although exact rates of social media addiction per platform are difficult to find, the Pew Research Center offers a clear picture of what percentage of Americans use each service and notable demographics among users.
- 81% of all Americans use YouTube80% being women and 82% being men.
- YouTube’s largest user base is aged 18 to 49, with 93% of all users in this age group.
- 69% of all Americans use Facebook, with 77% being women and 61% being men.
- Facebook’s largest user base is aged 18 to 64, with 73% of all users in this age group.
- 40% of all Americans use Facebook, with 44% being women and 36% being men.
- Instagram’s largest user base is aged 18 to 29, with 71% of all users in this age group.
- 31% of all Americans use Pinterest, with 46% being women and 16% being men.
- Pinterest’s largest user base is aged 18 to 64, with 35% of all users in this age group.
- 28% of all Americans use LinkedIn, with 26% being women and 31% being men.
- LinkedIn’s largest user base is aged 18 to 64, with 33% of all users in this age group.
- 25% of all Americans use Snapchat, with 28% being women and 22% being men.
- Snapchat’s largest user base is aged 18 to 29, with 65% of all users in this age group.
- 23% of all Americans use Twitter, with 22% being women and 25% being men.
- Twitter’s largest user base is aged 18 to 29, with 42% of all users in this age group.
- 23% of all Americans use WhatsApp, with 21% being women and 26% being men.
- WhatsApp’s largest user base is aged 30 to 49, with 30% of all users in this age group.
- 21% of all Americans use TikTok, with 24% being women and 17% being men.
- TikTok’s largest user base is aged 18 to 29, with 48% of all users in this age group.
- 18% of all Americans use Reddit, with 12% being women and 23% being men.
- Reddit’s largest user base is aged 18 to 29, with 36% of all users in this age group.
- 13% of Americans use Nextdoor, with 16% women and 10% men.
- Nextdoor’s largest user base is aged 30 to 64, with 16% of all users in this age group.
Addiction to Social Media by Demographic
Research on social media addiction is still growing, as the widespread use of social media is still relatively new to society.
Because social media addiction is not formally recognized as a diagnosis in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, 5th edition), exact numbers are hard to come by.
However, social media as an industry is highly data-driven. Statistics of active social media users and demographics are easy to find, painting a surprising picture of how commonplace social networking sites have become.
Social Media Addiction Statistics by Race
According to data from Statista, online users who report being addicted to social media vary by ethnicity.
As of 2019, the data shows addiction among the following ethnicities:
- Among White users, 32% reported being addicted to social media
- Among Hispanic users, 29% reported being addicted to social media
- Among Asian users, 27% reported being addicted to social media
- Among African American users, 25% reported being addicted to social media
The Pew Research Center reports that specific social media sites are more popular with certain ethnicities.
Here are the top four sites used by ethnicity:
- White Americans:
- 79% use YouTube
- 67% use Facebook
- 35% use Instagram
- 29% use LinkedIn.
- Black Americans:
- 84% use YouTube
- 74% use Facebook
- 49% use Instagram
- 35% use Pinterest
- Hispanic Americans:
- 85% use YouTube
- 72% use Facebook
- 52% use Instagram
- 46% use WhatsApp
Social Media Addiction Statistics by Age
Teens and young adults are by far the largest age group affected by social media addiction.
Because many young people experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), they feel obligated to be on social media despite the mental health issues excessive use of social media can cause.
According to Statista, rates of self-reported social media addiction by age group include:
- 18 to 22 years old: 40% of Americans self-reported being addicted to social media
- 23 to 38 years old: 37% of Americans self-reported being addicted to social media
- 38 to 54 years old: 26% of Americans self-reported being addicted to social media
- 55 to 64 years old: 21% of Americans self-reported being addicted to social media
Social Media Addiction Statistics by Gender
When it comes to self-reporting social media addiction, it appears at first glance that women are more likely to have social media addiction than men.
Statista reports the following rates of social media addiction per gender:
- 34% of women admit they are somewhat addicted to social media, with 11% admitting they are undoubtedly addicted to social media.
- 26% of men admit they are somewhat addicted to social media, with 7% admitting they are undoubtedly addicted to social media.
Although women tend to self-report a higher addiction to social media than men, recent studies have found that men may actually be more likely to develop social media addiction than women.
According to these recent studies on social media addiction:
- 6% of men were addicted to social media
- 32% of women were addicted to social media
Social Media Addiction Treatment & Recovery Statistics
Unfortunately, there are no current statistics regarding recovery from social media addiction. However, we do know that behavioral therapy has proven to be the best treatment type for social media addiction.
The most common types of therapy used in the treatment of social media addiction include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Motivational Interviewing (MI)
- Group Therapy
Although each of these therapies uses different approaches, they all have the same goal. Each therapy works by helping patients learn to be more self-aware of their addictive behavior and develop strategies to avoid problematic or unhealthy social media use in the future.
Finding Treatment for Social Media Addiction
Because social media addiction can make you feel alone or embarrassed, many addicts suffer from low self-esteem and poor mental health. Luckily, there are many treatment options available for social media addiction.
You can start by asking your doctor how much time you spend on social media accounts and see what treatment may be best for you.
Don’t have a doctor or not sure where to start? Try out SAMHSA’s treatment locator or call 1-877-726-4727 (HELP) and get resources on social media addiction treatment options in your area.