The apps that checkerboard our home screens offer a constant stream of images to be devoured and internalized, like exhibits of comparative beauty standards in a handheld museum. Those of us who like to believe we're immune to social media's intelligent algorithms still can't completely divest, thanks to the dopamine elicited by each tap and share. As humans, it's simply not in our nature to log off, even when staying on hurts.

Here's Why You Can't Log Off Social Media — Even When It Makes You Miserable

"When self-esteem is forming in adolescence, that's when people are the most vulnerable," says board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist Amy Wechsler, M.D. "For some kid scrolling alone in the dark, [apps] can be a black hole." That dark reality — and its bright revenue upside — isn't lost on app creators.

A few months ago, The Wall Street Journal published documents leaked by a Facebook whistleblower containing some of the social media giant's research about its impact on the mental health of its youngest users. Among the grim discoveries: In one survey, 13.5 percent of U.K. teen girls said their suicidal thoughts became more frequent after joining Instagram. In another, 17 percent of teen girls said their eating disorders worsened with use of the app. And there's no evidence to suggest that we break out of that mind-altering, thumb-stiffening cycle as we age. In a recent study, TikTok and Snapchat use was associated with depressive symptoms among those 35 years or older. We might get savvier and more intelligent, but so does the technology that distorts our perceptions.