In our current generation, social media is the most common thing a teenager utilizes. So what exactly is social media? Social media is basically websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. Some examples of social media platforms are: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat. So, why should we bother to think about the negative, when it’s so popular among teenagers? Well there are several reasons why social media makes a negative impact. Such as that it causes depression and anxiety, cyberbullying, FOMO (fear of missing out), unrealistic expectations, negative body image,and unhealthy sleep problems.
The first common effect is depression and anxiety. According to a study that focuses on mental health, people that used social media actively was linked to both less happiness and less life satisfaction; the more people used social media in a day, the more these two variables dropped off. In fact, you are more likely to report poor health, compared to people that don’t use social media actively.
Another common effect is FOMO. FOMO is basically a form of anxiety that you get when you’re scared of missing out on a positive experience or emotions that someone else is getting. This fear is constantly fueled by social media engagement. The more you use social networks, the more likely you are to see and feel that someone is having more fun that you are right now. And that’s exactly what causes FOMO.
This one is probably no surprise, but social media helps you to form unrealistic expectations of life and friendships. Part of the reason social media makes people feel socially isolated is the comparison factor. We fail to be realistic and fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others as we scroll through our feeds, and make judgements about how we measure up. Along with unrealistic expectations, negative body image about yourself may increase. Since people post picture-perfect moments on their social media, you will only see what they want you to see.
If you go on any social media platform, you’ll probably see celebrities wearing expensive clothing looking flawless. Well, the most important factor to remember is that, celebrities normally have a whole group helping them get ready. We see what the users want us to see on their social media, their perfect lifestyle, and sometimes we have to remember that everybody is beautiful in their own way. Just because a celebrity does something, it does not necessarily mean we should imitate what they do. Celebrities are influencers, not people that we should directly copy. Even if we fear that we are not as beautiful as celebrities, the most important key factor is that we feel comfortable in our own body.
On top of increased rates of anxiety and depression, spending too much time on social media can lead to poor sleep. Numerous studies have shown that increased use of social media has a negative effect on your sleep quality.
As a teenager myself, I am actively on social media and have ignored the destructive side of social media. I’ve realized that there are many negative effects of social media affecting our lives. As teenagers, social media plays an important part in our lives. This is also the age where we go through the most amount of stress with homework, tests, and our social life. If we want our mental health to be healthy and in good condition, we have to focus and make sure we understand what social media may cause.
To prevent being affected by social media’s destruction, one should take a break from social media and go for a walk, or take a nap. To see if interacting without social media is healthier, I tested it out myself. I deleted Instagram, Snapchat, and turned off my phone and focused on other things. Because I wasn’t online, I did better in school, went to sleep at 10 pm, spent time with family, and was in a better mood at school.
Instead of focusing on the crazy, dramatic things on social media, I was very much interested in myself and nothing more. So I encourage everybody to take some time off of social media, and really think about what needs prioritizing or need to be prioritized.
Chloe S. Mun, Grade 8
Jeffrey Trail Middle School