A Monster in the Making

You sit in your pitch black, empty room, trying to start your homework for the new unit in pre-calc that you barely understand. The only light is the illumination of your phone hitting your face. You scroll. And scroll. Going hours on end. You look at the time. 11:47 p.m. You should probably get to bed. But instead you decide to continue to look at the endless amounts of pictures and videos of people you wish you could be or places you crave to be at. The only thing you’ve got is the six by three inch rectangle in your palm. 

Social media is taking a huge toll on our generation. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, teens are spending nearly nine hours a day, not including homework, online. Teens are getting feelings of isolation, loneliness, social anxiety and depression many of which are rooting from social media. We need to use our time spent on social media wisely. 

Although social media can assist in connecting people from all over the world, it also can be used as a replacement for in-person interactions. People have adapted to communicating online by substituting social media usage for face-to-face social interactions. Teens who use social media heavily are 3 times as likely to feel socially isolated, provided by a recent study from the University of Pittsburgh. Social media allows anyone to hide behind a screen and say whatever they desire which can harm offline relationships and their wellbeing. Especially a more prevalent situation was the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing everyone inside and isolated. People, including myself, are still struggling to adjust back to life without online phone calls or text exchanges. It is crucial to build relationships offline and understand people away from the screens.

Like any online platform, cyberbullying is one of the many risks that are presented on social media. Anyone has the ability to put whatever they want on the internet, and that includes hurtful messages to individuals. Cyberbullying can and does have vast effects on people’s lives, such as poor academic performance, low self-esteem and loneliness. In order to prevent cyberbullying we need to spread awareness and prove to anyone going through it that they’re not alone. If cyberbullying can be stopped hundreds of lives can be saved and improved mentally.

Social media creates false narratives of everyone and everything and it can easily make someone feel excluded. Seeing your friends doing something fun without you, or even seeing total strangers appearing to have a great time, can cause you to feel left out. Behind the screen that person could be dealing with so many things that you, or any of their followers, would even imagine. The media puts a huge amount of pressure on individuals to meet a certain standard of beauty. For anyone, social media can cause them to have a negative body image of themselves. According to research done by Florida House Experience Health, 87% of women and 65% of men compare themselves to others on social media.

It is critical to take time away from social media and to do so we need to take steps towards it. Avoid keeping your phone next to you while you sleep to stop that urge to use it. Turn off your notifications. It can be difficult trying to detach yourself from social media and seeing your phone light up every second. Just simply spending some time away from social media can be a gamechanger. So take a step back and leave time for yourself. Don’t let social media control your life.