From Snapchat to Instagram we flaunt our best selves, so others can think our lives are all figured out. We all put on a mask, whether it’s an angle, outfit, or the infamous Facetune. Social Media is a way for us to ignore our internal issues. It can be compared to a drug, addicting and an escape from the real world, but the “escape” does not help us in the end.
Being involved in social media leads to an increase in worry about likeability and body image. The more likes one gets, the better one feels. In 2018 a study from independent.co.uk concludes that 41 percent of 1,000 Gen Z teens said social media made them feel anxious or depressed. Generation Z has the largest portion of individuals living with a mental illness than any other generation.
The increasing amount of “influencers” has been linked to the development of eating disorders in teens, both male and female. Teens want to be “beautiful” like the extremely skinny models they see. It is likely that the influencers suffer from body images themselves, creating a never-ending cycle of trying to reach a new expectation of perfection. After polling 10 OHS students, 7 of them said social media does make them feel insecure. The question polled both male and females, concluding that social media affects both ends of the spectrum, unlike most people think.
As online communication has risen in the past few years, the face to face communication has declined amongst youth. It is damaging our social and public speaking skills. Ideas, confrontation, and emotions are not expressed as well as the used to be. The lack of face to face conversations have led to an upsurge of social anxiety among Generation Z.
Social media does have benefits when it comes to innovation and the spreading of information. New ideas can be disseminated faster and innovation can happen more efficiently when it is displayed by an online platform. Users also can gain inspiration from art posted on platforms such as Pinterest or Tumblr. The results from the poll is pretty even, with 6 saying it was harmful and four saying it wasn’t. It is a blessing as well as a curse, it just depends on the perspective of the user.
Social media also affects your school work. Teenagers use social media to procrastinate, thus leading to more stress and possibly affecting your grades. All 10 students polled in the OHS hallways said social media did cause them to procrastinate. Many teens use their phones 3-4 hours a day, most of this time being after school when they should be finishing assignments.
We can’t change the impacts of social media, but we can make strives to make ourselves better. Picking up a hobby instead of picking the phone could help everyone. Spending time in nature has also been proven to relieve stress and anxiety. Just taking a 20 minute walk a day could improve our mood and reducing our mental health issues from social media.
While there are many benefits to teenagers favorite activity, the harm affects one’s well being. The innovation and discoveries you can find through these apps can improve our society, unless you are spending hours upon hours looking at posts that’s only use is to show off.
Do we want to risk our health in order to be easily entertained? That is a question one has to ask themselves, but the overall response affects all of us as a society and generations to come.