Social media and teens

Today’s high school students grew up in a digitally saturated world, where having social media can feel like an unwritten necessity, portraying an online image is a growing worry for many teens, and our phones are becoming harder and harder to put down. 

As a teen in today’s age, there’s a sense of connection that comes with having social media— which can have it’s pros and cons. Being able to stay in touch with friends who live far away, and connect with people that you aren’t with at the moment is a great tool. Quarantine showed us even further how helpful it is to have these resources to stay connected with one another if we can’t or aren’t seeing them in person. Senior Sara Añel remarked that social media helps you to “connect with friends and family, especially during quarantine when you have no choice but to see people virtually.” Junior Ekaterina Kontos-Cohen noted a similar thing, saying “It helps people communicate with those they don’t see in person and share moments in their lives.” 

But there is another side to that coin. Because of how much more “in the loop” you are if you have social media, deleting it can feel like less of an option for some, myself included. Based on a Google form I put on my Instagram, in which 90% of the responses came from teenagers, about 80% of people said they thought it would be really hard to delete all social media. Freshman Niyah Tyroum, when asked about the effect she thought deleting social media would have on her life, said “I know that if I deleted social media, it would affect my mental health positively. At the same time, I feel like it would affect my social health negatively because I wouldn’t be able to share my life or see what other people are doing.” 

The effect of social media is a complex topic, because there are so many positives and negatives. Tyroum went on to also say “The thing is, with sharing parts of my life and seeing what other people are doing, sometimes it makes me feel like I have to be doing the same thing or be doing something “cooler”, which I know is not true.” The role and relationship social media has in teens lives is complicated—the outlook we should consider right now should be how we let social media function in our lives, and what kinds of things we decide to take in and put out on social media. 

In the same Google form, about 90% of people said they wished they spent less time on social media. Evidently, we are noticing our time spent on social media isn’t as beneficial as we’d like it to be. The content found on social media touches on so many areas— there is educational content, highlight reels of people’s lives, hate comments, beauty standards, tools to connect with people that we wouldn’t be able to without social media, and so much more. Sara Añel also said “Depending on what info you surround yourself with, social media can overly romanticize certain things and create unrealistic standards… you can see a lot of hateful things and it’s kind of unavoidable.” 

Social media is a huge part of the world today, especially for young people. The intentionality we have when using it is a huge factor that shouldn’t be overlooked; the kind of space we enter when we open an app should be one that we pay attention to, and set boundaries with.