Youth Attributes Social Media Addiction To Lack Of Love From Family

By Suh Keline

When Niba Yannick’s father died in 2020, life became challenging for him as no family members showed him love. With no one to console him, Niba found solace on social media platforms and, as such, he has become addicted to them.

Aside from using it to overcome loneliness, curb depression and boredom, Niba has made social media a companion. He uses it to distract himself from feeling depressed and lonely.

“With the many challenges I face, I become depressed easily and so sad, so I go on social media for some comfort,” he says.

“After my father passed away, people accused me of using him for money rituals because I wanted to be like my friends who already had cars. With all the accusations, I left home and decided to live alone because even my own mother couldn’t trust me.”

That pushed him to start spending most of his time on social media because it helps him to forget some of his problems.

What he is facing is a challenge many youths nowadays are going through. Phones give them companionship than other humans, especially for those depressed and those having issues with others. They turn to use the social media to pour out their anger and frustration.

Afungwa Sandra, a resident Buea, spends 15 hours daily on social media.  

Her activities on the various platforms span from academic work to socialisation, advertising her business and leisure. Sandra says she feels awkward when she sits idly and is not using her phone. Her excessive use of social media has left her addicted.

“I use my phone to do many things like school work, advertise my business and for leisure,” she tells The Post.

“I always feel like using it every minute. Even when I’m not online, I’m still always on my phone,” she adds.

Researchers have termed the Internet, smartphones and social media as some of the most significant discoveries in the history of mankind. These devices have blessed humanity with fast communication, eased long-distance interaction between people, revolutionised business and journalism, and so on.

Although most youths won’t admit they are addicted to social media, others like Peace Beri admit their addiction. Although she started using a phone just five years ago, she is already versed with the major social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.  

“I do literally everything with my phone and I can be on social media for 13 hours and above unless I have other things to do. I can’t cope without it for even a day, without my phone,” she said.

Youth addiction to smartphones and social media is alarming, says Ngono Priscille, a guidance counselor based in Buea. Social media addiction, she adds, causes distraction and retards productivity. On social media, youths are easily exposed to gambling, sex, alcohol, foul language, scamming, and these ills also contribute to addiction.

From her experience with young people, Ngono Priscille affirms that youths who are highly exposed to social media tend to lose focus.

They also engage in unhealthy comparison, fall into depression, poor mental health due to lack of sleep, poor academic performance and isolation due to lack of face-to-face interactions.

She proposed some solutions to this growing problem of addiction. “For adults, keep yourself  busy always and never be idle; get rid of notifications because once you hear the notification sound you must be tempted  to check your phone; reduce the amount of time you spend on social media and set your priorities right,” she advised.

She suggested that parents should regulate their children’s exposure to smartphones and social media by setting boundaries.

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