The digital age has presented both convenience and consequence for today’s technological consumer. Many children are prone to having their own personal cell phones and tablets as early as elementary school. While this privilege has inherently become the norm for many families, the normalization of technology in our lives also exposes young minds to the potential drawbacks of social media.
To illustrate this concept, rising high school junior Jenny Yang recalls the earliest memories of her introduction to technology: “I got my first phone in the third grade. My mom had to work late everyday, and I walked home from school alone, so it was for safety and communication. As I got older and more of my friends got phones, it eventually became the way I socialized and even a source of entertainment.”
In addition, social media such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube provide platforms for young individuals to grow large fan bases with millions of followers. Amongst these fanbases are fan accounts – the online equivalent of a screaming fangirl in the form of a profile and username. Primarily on Instagram, these accounts will edit and repost photos of social media personalities, ultimately praising them for physical attributes which apparently make them worthy of unconditional support. Behind many of these accounts are kids as young as seven years old.
Some may argue that these fanbase platforms are seemingly pointless, but these foundations thrive on the notion that they could be followed or have their posts liked by social media celebrities. Therefore, this reality generates effective public interconnectivity that can, in turn, create hype amongst fanbase communities, thereby boosting popular internet reputations.
One influencer that epitomizes this phenomenon is sixteen-year-old Loren Gray, who grew in popularity through her lip-synching videos on the predominantly juvenile app, Musical.ly. After transferring her growing following to Instagram, she currently touts thirteen million followers. The core premise of her content consists of selfies and “perfectly-timed” candids. Despite the plainness and mediocrity of her accomplishments, she surprisingly receives overwhelming support, as seen in her thousands of fan account comments: “I love you,” “You deserve everything, queen,” “Seeing this picture made my day better,” and “I’m crying, I’m so proud of you.”
This irrational glorification of a complete stranger’s filtered version of their life mostly stems from mainstream media presenting poor role models or none at all. For a generation that must learn how to grow up with unlimited access to the world through a screen, it is important to emphasize the right values. It is necessary that we recognize this unhealthy lauding of certain “stars” to facilitate the movement of truthful thoughts in social media platforms.
Kate H. Lee, Grade 11
South Pasadena High School