How Damaging is Social Media to Teenagers Today?

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Jocelyn Travis, Writer

In the United States, 90% of teens ages 13-17 have used social media and the majority of this percentage is on social media almost constantly. Still, social media use among teens is skyrocketing. Many teenagers glide through their daily routines with their phones in their hands regularly checking for notifications or alerts, not considering the effect it could have on them.  How long will it take until your phone sucks you in completely?


The invention of social media was meant to provide humans with a way to contact friends and family members and to connect with them when they are unable to see them in person. Although this can be beneficial, most of the time it is abused, and people find themselves consistently staring at their phone paralyzed, and unable to look away. Seeing what friends and family are up to can help ease stress and feeling of loneliness, but there are also negative aspects that accompany this. 


In a survey with two of Pentucket’s students, both agreed that social media can definitely affect their mental health. An important point made by one student explained how it can be detrimental to one’s mental health if someone’s  worth is wrapped up in a like or a share on a social media app. In these surveys, both students said that the top three dangers of social media were effects on confidence and physical and mental health. These three are very important, but the list of dangers only gets bigger as time goes on. 


Since social media is relatively new, it is still hard to determine the consequences it can have on an individual in the future, but it has proven that it can take a toll on mental health based on what we have already experienced. A lot of social media apps are taken over by influencers, and people who inspire new trends and ideas. While this helps the economy and the way people spend their money, many of these influencers create a false sense of reality and can leave viewers feeling like their own life isn’t adequate. 


However, in addition to public figures and their influence on teens, apps like Snapchat and Instagram have been proven to spark mental health conditions like depression, and anxiety and can impact a teenager’s confidence. Is it really worth it? Would you rather live in the moment than on a screen? 


Mental Health

Social media does not affect everyone negatively, but as social media use has risen over the years, so have mental health conditions among teenagers. Although social media mostly targets teenagers, the same effects can be seen in people even younger too. A study by the Child Mind Institute states that eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. In addition, teenagers are more likely to talk about themselves more than they would in person. When they recieve a like or a comment on something they post, it can make them feel like people like what they are saying or are interested in what they are posting. Without these likes, it can lead to negative self-esteem or confidence issues in the long run. These are only a few issues that social media can be connected to, and there are many more that have been proven to affect teenagers today. 


Impact on education

In addition to the mental health issues that social media can cause, it has also proven to distract and interfere with teenagers education. An article written by Harvard discusses how cell phones in school have impacted test scores, the ability to focus on assignments, and reaction time. As a student myself, I agree with this and I find myself constantly distracted by my phone. Simply leaving your phone in your bag while doing work can significantly reduce the temptations to check it. I have found that this has helped me stay in the moment more instead of on my phone. 


Ultimately, many could argue that social media has benefited them and has guided them through their daily routines. Although there are many great ways that it can assist us, there are still significant ways that social media harms us everyday without us realizing. Taking time to enjoy the moment instead of being distracted by a screen drastically improves your overall wellbeing.