Social media impacting social lives
SOUTH PORTLAND (WGME) – Teens are more connected now than ever before and are creating connections and friendships online.
According to statista.com, 79 percent of Americans aged 13 to 24 are using Snapchat and 76 percent of them using Facebook.
Doctors warn social media can be a double edged sword.
Dr. Erin Belfort specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry at Maine Health and says many kids don’t have problems regulating technology and social media use. She says for some kids social media can be a game changer in connecting with people.
“Social media can be a lifeline and a lifesaver for some kids,” said Dr. Belfort. “Particularly for marginalized kids who can find a sense of community, a sense of belonging.”
12-year-old Ryan Gildart found that in the online gaming community. He has more than 7,000 followers on his YouTube page and says he loves interacting with people online.
“I do live steams where I do get video games live so it’s happening right now and people chat,” Gildart said. “It’s such a blast to interact with my fans.”
Ryan was diagnosed with autism at two and a half years old and his parents say technology and social media has been a game changer.
“At that time he wasn’t very conversational,” Alle Gildart said. “He picked up an I-phone one time and it just like clicked and everything kind of made sense for him and he was able to use that to learn how to communicate, learn language, learn so much.”
But Dr. Belfort warns there is a dark side to social media. Any teen or adult can become addicted.
“I think many of us working with kids and families and adults for that matter would recognize problematic internet use or internet addiction as sort of a real phenomenon,” Dr. Belfort said. “For some people they really can’t regulate their use, they can’t cut back, they can’t stop. It clearly gets in the way of other activities.”