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Analysis of Social Media Addiction among Different Generations of Users

In today’s digital age, social media has become seamlessly integrated into our lives, shaping how we connect, share, and engage with the world around us.  The proliferation of social platforms has given rise to a pressing concern: social media addiction. 

In this essay, we’ll look into the complexities of social media addiction across different age groups, exploring its prevalence, impacts, and actionable strategies for fostering healthier digital habits.

Social Media Addiction Across Age Groups

Contrary to popular belief, social media addiction is not confined to teenagers; it affects individuals of all ages. 

While teenagers are often viewed as the primary demographic susceptible to social media addiction, recent studies have shown that adults, including those in their thirties, fifties, and even seniors, are increasingly exhibiting addictive behaviors on social platforms. 

For instance, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center revealed that 69% of adults aged 50-64 use social media. With many reporting spending several hours per day on various platforms, indicating a significant reliance on these digital spaces for social interaction and entertainment.

Popular Social Media Among Different Age Groups

As of 2021, Nigeria had approximately 33 million social media users, representing about 17% of the population. These numbers are expected to continue rising and more parts of Nigeria become connected with internet connectivity. 

Here is a breakdown of which social media platforms are popular among different age groups of Nigerians. 


Youths in Nigeria account to about 40-40% of Nigerian social media users. They are more interested in visually engaging platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. These platforms offer a mix of entertainment, social connection, and visual content.

They use social media extensively for socializing, sharing personal experiences, and following influencers and celebrities. They are also active in online activism and social causes.

Young Adults (25-34 years old)

This group accounts for about 25% of Nigerians on social media. This group also uses Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok but may also be inclined toward professional networking platforms like LinkedIn.

They use social media for a combination of personal and professional purposes. This age group may be more focused on career advancement, staying updated with industry news, and networking with peers.

social media addiction

Middle-aged adults (35-54 years old)

Middle-aged Nigerians make up about 20% of Nigerians on social media. Facebook is the most popular platform among middle-aged adults in Nigeria, along with WhatsApp for messaging and group communication.

This age group uses social media to stay connected with family and friends, share updates about their lives, and consume news and information.

Elderly (55+ years old)

About 5-10% of Nigerian social media accounts are owned by elderly Nigerians. 

WhatsApp is particularly popular among the elderly in Nigeria due to its simplicity and ease of use.

Elderly individuals may use social media primarily for staying in touch with family members, sharing photos and messages, and participating in community groups.

Elderly people who use social media are very susceptible to getting defrauded or scammed by internet fraudsters. It is therefore important for elderly people to receive increased enlightenment on how to protect their accounts.

Impacts of Social Media Addiction

The problem of social media addiction extends far beyond individual behavior. It affects various aspects of people’s lives.

In the workplace, excessive social media usage can lead to a decline in productivity and performance. According to a study by CareerBuilder, 75% of employers reported observing a decrease in productivity due to employees’ personal use of social media during work hours. 

Additionally, addiction to social media can strain personal relationships, fostering feelings of isolation and detachment. 

Research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh found that the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook, was associated with increased feelings of loneliness and depression among users. 

Furthermore, the dynamics of parenting are influenced by social media addiction, with parents often struggling to balance their digital engagement with the demands of caregiving. 

study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies revealed that excessive smartphone use by parents was associated with negative parent-child interactions and emotional disturbances in children.

Challenges of Social Media Addiction in Secondary Schools

Secondary schools face a daunting challenge in regulating social media usage among students, particularly in light of the widespread ownership of smartphones. 

While no-phone policies are implemented to promote academic focus and discipline, they are increasingly difficult to enforce in an era where students rely heavily on digital devices for communication and entertainment. 

Just recently, a case of bullying between two female students of a secondary school in Abuja was reported and shared on social media. The case suddenly became a double problem of physical violence and invasion of privacy as the video found its way to social media where millions of strangers viewed the videos.

The proliferation of social media addiction among students has profound implications for academic performance and overall well-being. 

According to a report by Common Sense Media, 72% of teenagers reported checking their phones hourly, highlighting the high smartphone usage among adolescents. 

Moreover, studies have shown that excessive social media usage is associated with decreased academic achievement and increased levels of stress and anxiety among students.

Generation Alpha and Social Media

Generation Alpha (Children born between 2013-2025), born into a digital world, navigates social media with unprecedented ease and fluency. 

Gen Alpha are growing up surrounded by technology. They are digital natives who are adept at navigating various social platforms from a young age. 

In the Nigerian context, where access to smartphones and the internet is increasingly widespread, Generation Alpha’s digital experiences are shaped by cultural, socioeconomic, and technological factors. 

For example, a study conducted by Nielsen found that Nigerian children spend an average of three hours per day online, with social media platforms being among the most popular destinations for digital engagement.

Ways to Secure Gen Alpha’s Social Media Future

To ensure Gen Alpha uses social media sustainably, here are some approaches that can be implemented by all relevant stakeholders. 

1. Digital Literacy Education: Parents and teachers should  promote digital literacy from an early age. Teach Generation Alpha how to critically evaluate online content, recognize misinformation, protect their privacy, and engage responsibly on social media platforms.

2. Positive Content Creation: Parents should also encourage Generation Alpha to create and share positive, informative, and creative content that adds value to their communities. Emphasize the importance of digital citizenship and respectful online behavior.

3. Balance and Moderation: Parents and guardians should teach the importance of balance and moderation in social media usage. Encourage offline activities, outdoor play, and face-to-face interactions to foster holistic development and well-being.

4. Privacy Awareness: Parents and guardians should instill a strong understanding of privacy settings and online safety measures. Teach Generation Alpha to safeguard their personal information and be cautious when interacting with strangers online.

5. Critical Thinking Skills: Teachers should help Gen Alpha develop critical thinking skills to navigate the complex landscape of social media. Teach Generation Alpha to question, analyze, and verify information before accepting it as true.

Recommendations for Sustainable Social Media Usage Across All Age Groups

To address social media addiction, proactive measures must be taken to promote digital literacy and responsible usage across all age groups. 

Educational initiatives aimed at enhancing digital literacy skills and promoting online safety should be integrated into school curricula from an early age. 

Parents play a crucial role in modeling healthy digital behaviors and establishing clear boundaries around social media usage for their children. 

Workplace policies should be implemented to mitigate distractions and foster a culture of focus and productivity. 

Additionally, promoting balanced screen time habits and encouraging offline activities can help individuals maintain a healthy balance between their digital and real-world experiences.


Social media addiction is a multifaceted issue that affects individuals across generations. By understanding its prevalence, impacts, and underlying factors, we can work towards fostering healthier digital habits and promoting digital well-being. 

It’s essential for individuals, families, schools, and society as a whole to prioritize responsible social media usage and strive for a harmonious relationship with digital technology. By implementing proactive strategies and fostering a culture of mindfulness, we can harness the benefits of social media while mitigating its adverse effects on our lives.

Abdulrahman Baba-Ahmed

Abdulrahman Baba-Ahmed is a writer, researcher and environmentalist. He works in and writes from Kaduna.