Opinion & Commentary

Teenagers and the Impact of Social Media

By Clara Prander ’22

In today’s world, we consume excessive amounts of technology at a young age. Even though that can have a good impact on us, there’s also a lot of negative effects that we might not be aware of. 

On average, we spend around 5 hours every day on our phones, which is an alarming number. It’s everything from talking to friends, getting inspiration to just mindlessly scrolling. While many enjoy this, it has also been shown to have a negative effect on our mental health. Young people feel themselves getting more and more stressed and affected about what is happening in their phones. 

According to a study from the University of Nevada, “20% of young adults who have at least one Social Media account feel they have to check themselves out at least once every three hours to avoid feeling anxious.” The reason we feel anxious is because we see everything that the other people are doing, while we ourselves may just be at home. It makes us feel like we are not experiencing or fulfilling enough in life. Instead of being happy with what we’re doing at the moment, we feel like we aren’t doing enough.  The symptom of FOMO, meaning Fear Of Missing Out, is increasing as a result of this. This causes anxiety and stress that would not be created without these platforms, as well as lowering one’s self- esteem. So by just mindlessly scrolling you can create symptoms of FOMO that will affect you negatively. 

We have also started to rely on these platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Youtube and Instagram, etc. to find a connection with each other. It’s important to remember that social media can never replace the real-world human connection that we need. We require in-person contact with others to trigger healthy hormones that alleviate stress and make us feel happy and wholesome. Ironically, for platforms created to bring us more together, spending too much time engaging with social media can actually make you feel more lonely and isolated. It can increase the risk of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. 

Even though these are mostly negative aspects of social media, there are of course good ones as well. Social media allows us to find new friends online, stay in touch with people far away from us and also to seek support when struggling. It has also been helpful to many by being an outlet for their creativity with its endless possibilities of creating and posting. 

With all of this in mind I’m not suggesting that we should quit social media fully, since a lot of people actually enjoy it. Rather, I would encourage people to consume it in a healthy way and maybe start to form habits of doing things outside of the internet. Since social media has not been around for that long, we still need some time to find out, both for ourselves and society, how this all will affect us in the future.

Photo Curtesy by hackensackmeridianhealth.org

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