Have you ever thought about how social media really impacts teenagers? How their mental health, school work, relationships, and lifestyle could be affected from sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter? They might not think so, but teenagers brains are washed from these social media sites. They stop caring about how well they're doing in school. They just absolutely need to make sure they have liked every post, replied to every tweet, and are up to date on all the latest trends. I have seen it all myself, being a thirteen year old girl in junior high. Also, I have seen multiple studies that have shown that about 90% of teenagers own two or more social media accounts. I think if you want to be social, don't use media. Just call your friends and talk to them, that's socializing. I believe less exposure to social media will change teens lives for the better.
Social media is taking over. Exactly how many times does the average teenager check social media per day? Statistics show that "13-year-olds check social media 100 times a day" (Wallace, Kelly ). Teenagers seem to constantly worry that their social life is being ruined if they're not checking the latest posts every five minutes. Even when people are supposed to be sleeping, "Teens are so emotionally invested in social media that a fifth of secondary school pupils will wake up at night and log on, just to make sure they don’t miss out" (Udorie, June Eric.). Addiction is what I think when I hear this. If teens really think it's necessary to check Instagram or Snapchat in the middle of the night, it shows that they're too addicted to turn it off for even just a few hours. If teens aren't getting enough sleep at night, it could risk their mental health. Actually, "Teenagers who engage with social media during the night could be damaging their sleep and increasing their risk of anxiety and depression" (Udorie, June Eric.). So, the real wonder is, are teens’ mental health at risk because of too much exposure to social media? Could the loss of sleep from the undying need to check social media ruin who people are - depressing them? Could the constant cyber bullying depress them? The answer is yes. Social media is risking the mental health of many, many teenagers.
Another point to consider is peer pressure. Peer pressure is defined as "influence from members of one's peer group". When people think of peer pressure, they think of something like teens trying alcohol or cigarettes because of, well, pressure from their peers. But it definitely surprised me when I saw that social media is yet another way to pressure people. How does social media encourage peer pressure? Most peer pressure used to happen at school, but now it's travelling to anywhere and everywhere, also known as wherever you and your phone are. In fact, "most young people are rarely separated from their phones and computers, and they spend much of that time on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This means that whereas in the past they may have been removed from the pressures of peer pressure when they left school for the day, they can now spend hours with it at home" ("Peer Pressure and Social Media."). Maybe kids don't even realize that it's peer pressure if they're just reading it instead of actually hearing it come out of someone's mouth. I have seen myself that some people put on their Snap Stories "send nudes" or something to that effect. I don't know this as a fact, but maybe some people might actually do it, not realizing that it is a form of peer pressure. Actually, "the visual aspects of social media have some of the greatest effects on peer pressure: seeing their friends’ and peers’ behavior encourages them to want to do the same" ("Peer Pressure and Social Media.”). This could be a variety of things. Smoking, drinking, doing drugs - all things that peer pressure encourages. Peer pressure can be a powerful thing that can depress people and make them do bad things. Now social media encourages it, and can be accessed 24/7.
School plus social media equals bad grades. The perpetual urge to check every site you have an account on during a school day could be distracting from important school work. A survey actually shows that "About 50% of surveyed students have said to have more than three accounts on various networking sites, including Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, etc" (Nunez-Garcia, Alana.). So how do phones and social media affect school work? Not in a good way, even though some students might disagree. Another survey taken at St. Joseph high school shows that teens think "that social media does not largely have a negative impact on their social or academic life. It does not regularly prevent them from doing their homework or communicating with their friends and family" (Nunez-Garcia, Alana.). I think they're just telling themselves that so they don't have to deal with the problem. High school is where you really want to get good grades and get into a good college to get a good job. How is anyone supposed to do that when they're so busy on their phones that they're losing sleep? Also, grades are affected because people's self-esteem can be lowered by social media and cyberbullying. I actually have a friend whose feelings were hurt because of a picture someone posted of her. It really upset her, and I was so glad I never had to watch any of my other friends go through that. And that was just one picture - I’ve heard stories about continuous cyber bullying. I would absolutely hate to see anyone go through that. Teens always seem to take advantage of "the anonymity that comes with an online space comes the ability for people to target one or more persons very easily and without consequences" (Nunez-Garcia, Alana.). Anyone could be the victim of cyberbullying, and that could not only affect school, but life. Phones should not be tolerated at any school becuse social media affects teens lives at school negatively.
While there are many disadvantages to social media, that doesn't mean there aren't any advantages. Do some social media sites help teenagers with their social skills? In some ways, yes. Being able to talk to other people over text or social media instead of in person can maybe help shy people build their confidence so they could eventually feel comfortable talking to people. Also, "teenagers can create media, such as making movies, taking photographs and creating online content. Such endeavors help older children and teens develop critical thinking, technical, social and artistic skills" (Caprez, Judy.). Additionally, friendships can become stronger because of texting and social media, you can talk to your friends more and outside of school. Also, “through social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, adolescents can improve their social skills" (Caprez, Judy.). Teenagers can express themselves online. Whether it's talking to someone, or posting a video, the internet is a place where they can show the world who they are. It can also help them make friends, and talk to people around the world. Not everything about social media is so terrible, however the negative definitely outweighs the positive.
How are relationships affected from social media? Some people probably think relationships have become stronger ever since texting and social media came around because you could then reach people every hour of every day, but that is one of the reasons why relationships can be ruined because of social media. I would rather talk to someone about something in person other than text because since "you cannot read tone or body language through the written word, we often say things in writing that we would not say in person, and because you can now reach out and be reached 24/7, we are much more likely to write impulsively and based on emotions which may be temporary" (Siegel, Alyssa.). I know I've gotten in dumb fights with my friends before, but only one that ended a friendship. She tried to apologize to me over texting about a week after it happened. It started out just being a dumb thing, but it ended with her saying she couldn't trust me anymore, which led to me deleting her phone number and befriending her on Snapchat - and in real life. I would hate to think that if I had just called her or waited until we saw each other, that it would have ended differently. I was just really upset and wanted to tell her what I was feeling right at that moment, and what I had been for the last week. I still think of that fight to be mostly her fault, but not entirely. It could have been text and Snapchat that ruined us. Another aspect of social media relationships are "like" amounts. They seem to be really important these days. I've seen my friends make spam Instagram accounts just so they could like their own pictures. Interestingly enough, "liking a photo or adding a quick comment to posts is now considered an acknowledgment or a show of support, replacing a phone call or time spent together in all but the most serious of events" (Siegel, Alyssa.). This is insane. Most people liking your photos probably don’t even know you or your personality, and you think that shows support? Our new reality is texting 24/7, and constantly liking photos. That to me is ruining humanity. In my opinion, people are supposed to interact by hanging out and sitting together at lunch, or even just giving friends a call. Not by commenting on pictures. Social media has negative impacts on humanity's relationships.
Teens lives can be changed for the best if they don't visit social media sites. They put mental health in danger, they affect school work negatively, they can end entire relationships, and they extend access to peer pressure. Teens lives can be ruined. So can adults, for that matter. Humanity needs to be restored and replenished by getting rid of social media, because social media is making us physically anti-social.
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