By Julian Hutchins and Sarah Martin
SILVER SPRING, Md.– It comes as no surprise that social media is extremely popular among high schoolers, with the most iteration being an app called TikTok. However, the name might be deceiving in an age where many are feeling more isolated than ever.
According to a Pew Research study roughly 72 percent of American teens use Instagram, 69 percent use Snapchat and 51 percent use Facebook.
The perceived effect of social media use is split with almost half of the users saying there was not a significant positive or negative effect.
So if there is no significant effect, why is social media so popular?
“I can never really leave social media behind,” says one high school sophomore. While this doesn’t say anything about negative emotions, the distraction of a constant social media presence is apparent.
In the classroom, teacher Cori McAbee from North Carolina thinks that social media does impact her students, primarily in their ability to socialize.
The teacher says that her students have been hindered “when it comes to interacting with one another in person. Their very ability to communicate is deteriorating.”
This supports the theory proposed by experts that social media has a strong correlation with lower satisfaction in life and feelings of loneliness and depression.
So what is the reason behind this? How come those perceived to be most social are actually struggling to build in-person bonds?
This is because social media is an idealized version of others’ lives and often times it isn’t treated as such.
Assuming this is the “norm” for others can lead to feelings of inferiority or “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out), a term popularized to label the feeling of loneliness prompted by seeing social media gatherings.
“I think social media makes me stressed out because I feel like I have to get through all of the posts, even if I don’t want to,” another high schooler said. “There’s a sense of missing out, especially if friends of mine post about each other.”
Another high schooler, who doesn’t use social media, said “It’s really easy for me not to procrastinate because I don’t have social media. A lot of my friends have told me that they spend valuable time on platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok when they could be doing homework.”
From the majority of high schooler students we spoke to, it seems as if among the teenagers that do have social media, they feel like they spend too much time on it rather than doing schoolwork.
Social media has many effects on teenagers, but the most notable are: depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, envy, and communication issues.
As a mother of three teenagers, Heather Bowcutt does not allow her kids to have any social media accounts because she doesn’t want to “introduce another avenue for my kids to be bullied–or to bully others–while they’re navigating their own social identity.” She also believes that jealousy and isolation are prominent issues when it comes to children and teenagers using social media.
Despite social media being a beneficial tool for people to communicate when apart, it can have daunting effects on people, especially teenagers.
Is social media really worth all the trouble? Should we get rid of social media altogether?
The choice is yours.
The authors of this piece are students at Blair High School.