Some people scroll through their Instagram feed to unwind and unplug during lunch breaks or to kill time. But is this a way to disguise the uncomfortable truth: people are addicted to their smartphones and the social media platforms on them? The daily habit of Instagram scrolling can be the reason behind growing anxiety levels, and experts are starting to identify the mental health concerns associated with this platform.

'Social media is destroying our lives'

While researching her book, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, Nancy Jo Sales interviewed many L.A.-based private school students. One of these girls confided that “Social media is destroying our lives,” but when Sales suggested just stepping away from it, the response was grim: “Because then we would have no life.”

Instagram creates smartphone dependency

The response of that teenage girl may sound extreme to most parents, and it’s easy to roll one’s eyes at such a desperate statement.

But being without a smartphone is responsible for causing an anxiety called “nomophobia,” a term which was first coined in 2012, and which then was added to dictionaries four years later. What is nomophobia? It’s “the feelings of discomfort or anxiety caused by the nonavailability of a mobile device enabling habitual virtual communication.”

Being without social media causes physiological changes

Unfortunately, we can’t write off nomophobia as something that’s all in your head.

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One study found that being away from smartphones can lead to an elevation in heart rate and blood pressure. And even though taking a break from Instagram might relieve smartphone-induced back and neck pain, it’s hard to notice these positive changes when such serious physiological symptoms are occurring.

Social platforms prompt schools to adjust health curriculum

It seems that American teens are living out a vicious cycle, especially those living in cities like L.A., where status and image is everything.

They can’t live with Instagram, and they can’t live without it. On average, the American teen spends nearly two hours on social media every day. Spending 14 hours a week in any activity will surely influence you. And unfortunately, for American teens, the impact of social media is profoundly negative.

Instagram anxiety is such a problem that a private school in L.A. made changes in their health curriculum. What does this addendum include? How to talk to your friends on social media.

Experts offer advice on how to reverse Instagram anxiety

It may be too much to ask teenage students to cut out social media cold turkey. However, experts agree that limiting time spent on social media each day can help to reduce smartphone dependency. Stepping away can also create more time for interpersonal engagement and truly creative activities.

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