Do They Stop? How Do They Stop? Why Do They Stop? Whether, How, and Why Teens Insert “Frictions” Into Social Media’s Infinite Scroll

Nikhila Natarajan


Teenagers’ social media use is often cast as problematic and addictive, and moral panics are a persistent theme. The scholarly literature reveals a gap in studying whether teens actively resist social media design by applying “frictions” (e.g., screen locks and reminders). The concept of “frictions” is situated in conversation with the “frictionless” design of social media apps, which eliminate stopping cues. Using developmental theory to understand and compare age differences in teen social media practices, this study investigates whether, how, and why teenagers pause or stop social media use. Based on in-depth interviews with 20, 13–16 year olds, from the United States and Canada, this study finds that when teens acknowledge and grapple with feelings of discomfort with social media experiences, some introduce frictions. As policymakers struggle to play catch-up with technology regulation, this study highlights how teenagers are thinking about social media effects, and designing their own exit paths.


teenagers, adolescents, technology, social media, algorithms, developmental theory, frictions

Full Text: