With Great Social Media Power, Comes Great Responsibility

Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, and various other social media platforms play a major role in teenagers' everyday life. With the power of the internet and how easily things can get communicated with others comes great responsibility. Use of screen time and social media can have many effects on teens such as sleep loss, anxiety, depression, and even obesity.

CNN Health conducted a study on teenagers' daily screen time usage. They found out that teenagers spend more than seven hours a day on screens, and that isn’t included with their school work. When people use screens and social media, it affects the same part of the brain that also ignites when taking an addictive substance, according to Harvard. There is also dopamine released when having direct contact with screens. When people use a screen, whether it's a phone, computer, or iPad, they all produce blue light. Blue light, as defined by Sleep Foundation, is “a portion of the visible light spectrum that can have unique effects on alertness, hormone production, and sleep cycles.” This affects teenagers a lot because about 36% of teenagers look at their phones before they go to bed, causing issues with getting adequate sleep. A teenager is suggested to get 10 hours of sleep every night for good performance, but most teens only get 6.5 - 7.5 hours of sleep. With lack of sleep, comes other things like slower alertness and concentration capabilities. With this affecting your addictive personality, this causes issues with teenagers getting to bed at a good time. Eventually, the body starts to recognize these things as habits, like running off 5 hours of sleep or staying up later on social media. Technology turns into a drug.

Social Media is both a tool and a weapon. There are so many amazing things that have come with the advancements of technology, for example, people can communicate with people all around the globe from our couch. People can also make a living through social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. There are so many different things on social media that it appeals to almost everyone. If you have an interest you can find it. This also creates inspiration for people to do what they love and gain support from other people. Social media can also cause negative impacts on teenagers’ self-esteem, self-image, and overall mental health, says Newport Academy. Teenagers like many people follow well-known influencers on social media, as well as their friends and schoolmates. There is a theory called the Theory of Social Comparison, which states that many people compare each other on many different things such as looks, wealth, and even popularity. When people compare themselves this results in those issues like lower self-esteem and a decrease in mental health. An article written by Eveline Crone who is a professor in neuroscience and psychology development discusses how screens affect this newer generation of teenagers, “Being accepted or rejected by peers is highly salient in adolescence, also there is a strong need to fit into the peer group and they are highly influenced by their peers.” This shows that many teens find the need to compare themselves to their peers, which leads to self-shame. I wish I was as pretty as her, or I wished I was as fit as him. These are the thoughts in those teens' heads that make them self-conscious. There aren’t just “upward” comparisons though, there are also “downward” comparisons. Some of those prettiest girls or most attractive guys also compare themselves to people they think are “lower” or less popular than them. This in a way can boost people's self-esteem because they think thoughts such as “well at least I’m not them” and other things to make them feel better about themselves, which turns into negative criticism.

A rise of a new form of bullying has also come from social media, cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to bully another person. This tends to happen through social media. Going back to the idea of downward comparisons and negative criticism, some teenagers judge someone based on something they post or things they follow. Then those people get bullied through rude comments or even direct messages, which results in people getting affected on an emotional level. According to bullying.org 16% of students have experienced cyberbullying, stated by StopBull. This can cause people to stop posting and lose confidence in their looks, or their interest based on the opinions of others that have judged them. I interviewed some students at Chaparral to get their thoughts on the effects social media has on them. I asked one student about her views and the connection between social media and teens. She discussed how social media is somewhere in between the scale of being positive and negative, “the positive is the ability of communication with others so easily, and the negative is the creation of an unrealistic image in regards to body positivity.” My second question was do you think social media is overused by present-day teens? Her answer was yes, “it is hard to “escape” social media because it plays a large role in many teens’ life.” So, are you gonna limit your social media a little less? Do or do not, there is no try.

Story By : Jax Chou '24