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April 2020 – One Rutgers student said that since going into quarantine, she spends an average of 5 hours a day on TikTok, calling it a never-ending hole of content.

Although social isolation has transformed much of our daily lives in a multitude of ways, this situation fits into a greater trend. In 2019, 45 percent of people worldwide who use social media spent an average of approximately 2.5 hours a day on it, which is an hour more than the average for 2012. That is a 62.5 percent increase over seven years. Social media addiction is a term that has become familiar over the past few years, with studies linking increased social media usage to negative consequences on users’ mental health and development of coping strategies. 

But, addiction to these platforms is often wrongly framed as an individual issue, à la “kids these days with their Snapchats and Instagrams.” There is an implication that the blame lies on us for allowing ourselves to become addicted in the first place and, subsequently, that the onus is on the users of these platforms for fixing the problem. 

Quite to the contrary, many of the social media platforms people use daily and are spending even more time on now while stuck inside are built to encourage addiction. They are designed to capture and hold the attention of their users, even to the detriment of their health. 

@DailyTargum

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