STUDENT COMMENTARY: Effects of Social Media

Fiona Caywood, Arts and Entertainmet Editor

In today’s society, social media is used for numerous reasons. It’s used as a way to keep in touch with friends and family, a way to express creativity and emotion, a way to share significant events or stories, and a way to keep up to date on what is going on in the world. However, the positive effects social media has are equally, if not exceeded, by the negative effects. Teens today have created an unhealthy and obsessive relationship with social media and how they present themselves on their social media platforms.

While social media can undoubtedly be beneficial in making connections with friends and peers, overuse of it can raise very consequential problems. Becoming too focused on your image on social media can cause serious issues for your mental health, which in turn can affect your physical health. There is an endless list of detrimental effects that the overuse of social media can cause, and they all coincidently and consistently result in elevated levels of anxiety or depression among teens.

One of the most basic effects of social media is the commonly looked over is the addiction to it that a great deal of teens have. It typically goes by unnoticed unaddressed is because it is so incredibly common that it is viewed as normal. Most teens sit and scroll on Instagram or TikTok for hours on end each day instead of paying attention in class or completing their work. This lack of focus can lead to the deterioration of quality of work and success in a school or working environment. An easy way to prohibit addiction to social media is to limit your usage. Determine a specific amount of time you will allow yourself to spend on social media each day that still allows you to get your work done and be productive.

This obsession with social media can cause people to act in ways that they think will impress or attract other people. Typically, one’s activity on social media revolves around the common perception other people will have of them. This can cause teens to lose sight of their personality and who they truly are. If you spend enough time trying to be someone that is artificial, you eventually will lose the parts of yourself that are real. Acting certain ways on social media in order to gain validation will result in the struggle to keep up with your image in real life. The best thing to do as a user of social media is to make sure to use it in a way that reflects your true character, rather than trying to be someone that you are not.

Another serious issue that social media usage raises is cyberbullying. Teens feel more confident and protected when they are attacking someone from behind a screen. It is easy to anonymously harm someone on social media or do it without their knowledge. Teens sometimes use private stories on snapchat or “finsta” accounts to foster insults to their peers. Most people also find negative confrontation much more comfortable over the phone. Rumors are easily spread throughout social media that can cause grave complications in the target’s life. Cyberbullying can be dissolved simply by having empathy for others and putting yourself in their shoes. No one wants to have rumors spread about them, especially if they ruin the image of someone who worked hard make it.

Possibly the most severe issues social media causes is hyper fixation on physical image. People see TikToks or pictures on Instagram of people with “perfect bodies” and become obsessed with trying to look like them. This problem becomes even more urgent with the fact that most pictures shared on social media are manipulated to enhance attraction. So now not only are teens comparing themselves to others, but they are also comparing themselves to something fake. When teens continuously see these fake images across social media, it is easy to become fixated on trying to look like them. This consuming desire can result in severe body dysmorphia and lead to the formation of eating disorders. While we can’t prevent what other people post on social media, we can determine how we react to it. It is crucial to understand that social media is fake and that one person’s physical appearance is not a standard for your own.

There are numerous other negative impacts social media has, but these are just a few of the major ones. The best way to reduce these impacts is to limit usage, always use it to spread positivity, stay true to yourself, and understand that not everything you see on social media is real.