Social media shares personal information and could be addictive

Children and adults alike can share information in an instant, but how much is too much? (WICS)

Billions across the world use social media. It's something shared across society at an alarming rate.

Children and adults alike can share information in an instant.

But how much is too much? There's a lot of information on the internet and if you have social media, there can be a lot of you and your family.

Many can be too lax when it comes to the world wide web.

Doctors say social media is morphing what they see in the younger, internet-filled, generation.

Social media is fun and connective but also dangerous.

Facebook is the head honcho with over a billion users every month.

It’s home to connecting platforms, including thousands of games.

"Some games are really aware,” said Dr. Jorge Villegas, a UIS associate professor for business administration, marketing, and advertising. “They try to keep the interaction between people very limited, others are more wide open, pretty much, whatever happens, happens."

It's what you don't want to hear.

"Maybe you're using some kind of username,” Villegas said. “But still eventually someone can find you… If it's just children that's one thing, but when you have this combination of really young people and older people...there can be some problems."

Games ask for information for marketing research but also creates opportunities to meet strangers.

"The more friends you invite to a game,” said Villegas. “The more levels you can move to faster, or you get tokens or you get something some kind of credit that makes you a better player or makes games more exciting."

This 'crave' can lead many astray.

NewsChannel 20 headed to the Sangamon County Sheriff's office to dig into local cases.

"In Sangamon County,” said Mike Hart, Sangamon County’s Corrections Deputy. “We've had several instances where juveniles had been contacted by older adults and requested to send images or send personal information phone numbers then invited to get on different apps or they can exchange images more anonymously."

The point is...

"You never know,” said Deputy Hart. “Who you are talking to on the other end of that."

…The internet can be anonymous or an open book. The wrong combination can be deadly.

"The images of child pornography,” said Deputy Hart. “We rarely see cases of abduction but that’s certainly a possibility."

Even with the risks, social media can be hard to let go; these games and the social platforms, some doctors say they're seeing a new trend of social media addiction.

"I’ve definitely seen an increased awareness of the problem,” said Kelsie Tobias, Springfield Clinic’s licensed social worker.

Tobias said she's seeing more parent's concerned.

“It can be addictive,” she said.” To children who are craving that kind of social peace."

She said it's a life virtually unknown to the older generation: growing up with the internet and smartphones.

"If the only social interactions are harmful ones,” Tobias said. “Then it can be potential for behavioral health issues."

The idea of the addiction can come from the need for instant gratification, or cyber-bullying: the need to know what others are doing or saying.

"I just hope that there's continued the conversation of this issue,” Tobias said. “And that more research is done but also that parents school leaders physicians can all get on board with educating children with a safe way to use the internet."

It comes down to monitoring and limiting, for instance, ages 2-5 should only use the internet up to an hour a day.

The idea of addiction can affect anyone.

"It's a paradox almost,” said associate professor Villegas. “That you have all these people playing a video game, and we are more alone than ever."

Be aware, he said.

"If you don't feel confident in that particular game,” Villegas said. “Don't play it, there are other things in life that you can do."

Villegas warns to keep information private and keep the kids non-dependent of social media.

"I think the best remedy for any problem that we're going to have with that is education,” he said.

New research shows depression and anxiety could be linked to social media.

If you, your children, friends or family, may seem too attached to social media, some doctors encourage you to talk to a behaviorist or a social worker.Billions around the world use social media, it's sharing across society at an alarming rate.

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