Is social media becoming addicting for kids?

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By: Erin Lisch | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Caden Jackson can't get enough of the bells, buzzers and flashing lights of the arcade inside Tallahassee Fun Station.

Caden is playing a wheel-spin game, trying to win tickets. "It's not too slow," he explained, "and you wait and see if you land on something good."

For thousands of kids like Caden, the arcade games provide a unique thrill. But in the age of portable smart-devices, you don't need to look far to find competition for their attention.

For Caden, it's YouTube; "I just like watching games!"

But that's just the start. Pew Research reports more than nine out of ten teens go online daily. More than 80 percent of teens use social media because they feel they're more connected with the world and their friends.

Heading into her senior year of high school, Destiny Donald said, "Some of them are like, 'I have to keep up with a streak,' or 'I have to go on Instagram' or whatever."

Family counselor Dr. Dan Engle believes social media use comes with potential consequences, possibly increasing risk of depression, cyber-bullying, even abuse by sexual predators.

"Now, social media is a child's life," Engle explained

Something as simple as cutting ties with someone on Facebook can be detrimental.

"It's so easy, with one little click, to wipe somebody out. You put your ego on a lot and a lot of teens and children are not ready to do that," said Engle.

He added parents should wait to let kids use social media until at least high school. He also suggests when they log-on, to be sure they're equipped to handle any and all negativity.

Caden’s mother, Latosha Jackson, isn’t letting him near social media any time soon. "You give it all to them now it's like then there's no incentive," she said.

Other families, have different rules.

Teen Jaylan Smith said, "At night, I can't be on it too late."

Sharrod Harris added, "We need to worry about our education some of the time instead of being on your phone all the time."

Donald also said, "I just didn't really want to get into it because I know once you get into it you probably get sucked in."

As for Caden, he prefers the sights and sounds of the arcade.

"It's more fun doing it than watching," said Caden, who is focusing on taking home the prize rather than hitting the social media jackpot.

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