What Is Snapchat Addiction?

Snapchat addiction is the compulsive and excessive use of the Snapchat app, with an inability to cut back use even after experiencing negative consequences.

A primary reason that Snapchat addiction occurs and persists is the result of an effort to avoid the difficult feelings that present when not using the platform. In this way, the increase in positive emotions and the decrease in negative ones can cause an addiction.

Signs Of Snapchat Addiction

Addiction to social media can present itself through a multitude of signs. When someone is addicted to Snapchat, these include:

  • An inability to successfully control or decrease use.
  • A consistent preoccupation with the idea of using the platform.
  • The need to spend more time to enjoy it on the same level as before.
  • Failure to fulfill personal responsibilities.
  • Mood swings as a result of using social media.
  • Feeling stressed and restless when away from it.

A unique feature of Snapchat is the ability for users to maintain “Snapstreaks” with other users. These streaks track how many rows in a day that two users have sent photos or videos to each other. If someone does not send a Snap back within 24 hours, an hourglass emoji will appear before they ultimately lose their Snapstreak.

Many users feel pressure to keep these streaks going, and may feel as though they will offend, hurt, or disappoint their friends if they do not reply fast enough. This can lead to people sending blank photos to maintain their streak. Instead of having a genuine conversation with a friend, users feel pressured to keep checking and using the Snapchat app, even when it is unnecessary.

Some young people even provide their login details to friends if they are unable to use the app (if their parent confiscated their phone, for example), so that the friend can maintain the Snapstreak.

Being unable to stop using Snapchat, and experiencing feelings of stress, pressure, and anxiety is a sign of social media addiction.

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Who Uses Snapchat?

Snapchat is used by over 300 million people and is the third most widely used social media platform among young adults. According to the Pew Research Center, 60% of teenagers and 65% of adults younger than the age of 30 use Snapchat. They found that 35% of teens report using Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram “almost constantly.”

Negative Effects Of Snapchat

A 2020 study published in the Journal of Social Media in Society found that Snapchat use correlates with decreased mental health and negatively impacts interpersonal relationships.

Additionally, a 2023 study from the International Online Journal of Educational Sciences analyzed the correlation  between Snapchat addiction and levels of self-esteem and the fear of missing out (FOMO) phenomenon. Their results provided evidence that the frequency with which Snapchat is used is related to low levels of self-esteem as well as a fear of missing out on important things. This fear drives many consumers to constantly check for updates to feel informed and lessen their anxiety; it also contributed to feelings of being less capable or less attractive when compared to others. An association with addiction was shown as a result of Snapchat use increasing the desire for instant gratification and validation from other users.

Excessive Snapchat use can stem from a sense of urgency to present a certain self-image and receive validation for it. The increased use of social media sites like Snapchat can lead to heightened sentiments of inadequacy as a consequence of frequent exposure to idealized or unrealistic online posts by fellow users. This correlates with self-dissatisfaction and elevated levels of sadness and anxiety, causing decreased quality of life and lowered mental and emotional wellness.

Negative Effects Of Snapchat Filters

A main feature of Snapchat is the wide variety of filters that users can choose from. Many of these filters aim to improve people’s appearance, by smoothing their skin, shrinking their nose, changing their face shape, applying makeup, and enlarging their eyes among other distortions.

A study published in the journal Annals of Medicine & Surgery found that in recent years, the occurrence of young women showing an image of their filtered faces to plastic surgeons and requesting to be made to look like their filtered face has increased. This term is referred to as “Snapchat dysmorphia.”

Filters are distorting one’s perception of oneself and are creating unreasonable and unnatural expectations of one’s appearance. When these expectations are not met, this comparison leads to stress, appearance dissatisfaction, sensitivity to feedback and judgments about appearance, negative self-esteem, and low mood.

- Annals of Medicine & Surgery

Snapchat Addiction Lawsuits

Snapchat (as well as Google, Meta, and TikTok) is currently the target of a major lawsuit filed by an organization called Social Media Victims Law Center, which is alleging that such social media sites target youth who possess limited ability to control their impulses, leading to addiction in millions of children as well as risks such as exposure to dangerous adults and explicit content.

Additionally, in January 2024, the state of Nevada filed suit against Snapchat and other social media sites, stating that these platforms purposely addict users, particularly teenagers and young adults. Nevada’s attorney general specifically called out their user algorithms, stating that they purposely target the vulnerabilities of adolescents to hook them in.

These lawsuits signify a growing sentiment that social media platforms need to take responsibility for the addictive nature of their platforms and aid in efforts to protect their users from the negative consequences of overuse.

How To Get Help for Snapchat Addiction

Research from the Cyberpsychology journal investigated the link between social media addiction and self-esteem, providing evidence that helping a person boost their sense of self-worth and decrease feelings of inadequacy aided in decreased use and improved mental health. Additionally, promoting real-life social interactions and connection and a healthier relationship with the internet and other forms of technology was also found to help lessen social media addiction.

Receiving therapy is an effective method for combating social media addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an approach that has proven to be beneficial in this area of treatment. CBT works by helping a person to increase their self-esteem by exploring the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, thus allowing them to decrease excessive and problematic utilization of social media.

In addition, developing an understanding of the relationship between fear of missing out and utilization of social media is key in the development of treatment approaches designed to lessen the negative consequences of social media overuse and related damaging online behavior.

Help Is Available

If you or someone you care for is currently facing an addiction to Snapchat, help is available. Online therapy can provide the psychotherapy techniques found beneficial in treating Snapchat addiction. Explore our online therapy directory today to learn more about your options.