By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO is digging deeper into the role social media plays in our day-to-day happiness, and a local doctor has been studying the effects it has on our culture.

As crazy it might sound, he told us that it’s time we stop striving for happiness, altogether.

As the medical director for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s youth services, Dr. Joseph Lee is focused on youth and addiction. It’s where he’s watched a connection to social media only continue to grow.

Studies show young people in recovery for drugs or alcohol can be more easily hooked to media like video games or dating apps. Dr. Lee points to how some people are more susceptible to get sucked into social media than others.

“There are neuropathways that I think are similar, and it’s a message for society I think to pay attention to how social media affects our well-being,” Dr. Lee said.

He says that can be especially problematic in the teenage brain because young people are short-sited, and often think they are powerless to do anything about certain circumstances. Dr. Lee believes social media only magnifies that.

“When young people think in a fatalistic manner and they’re already down on themselves and they go on social media and they see a two-dimensional world that isn’t real, it creates greater dissonance between how they perceive they are and how they see the world,” he said.

It’s why Dr. Lee says we need to change the conversation.

“I tell parents not to pursue happiness, but to pursue peace of mind instead,” he said.

He says young people need to understand that happiness is fleeting. And, these snapshots are just that. It’s up to parents to preach that and lay a solid foundation.

“You have peace of mind if you know that you did the best you could, you have peace of mind when you’re surrounded by people who love you,” he said. “We have to guard what’s good about our society and what’s good about us so that we just don’t become two-dimensional amalgams of what we wish to be.”

Dr. Lee cautions the parents of kids who tend to be insecure to delay smart phones and social media.

If your child is constantly comparing themselves to others, there’s automatically a greater danger on social media. But, if your kids are balanced and know how to separate chores and hobbies, and balance their time, they’ll tend to do better.

Liz Collin