Unlike previous generations, the teenagers of today have grown up with easy access to the internet along with several different social media apps. I am currently a senior in high school and I have had many social media apps including Instagram and Snapchat since sixth grade. As a teen of this generation, I feel that the negative effects of social media are not talked about enough and need to be addressed.
Despite the many negative effects of social media, it is indisputable that apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter can be very useful. For example, social media allows teens to easily connect with each other, create their own identities, and express themselves. We live in a world that is continuing to be more technology-based every day. So, being able to thoroughly understand how social media works is a valuable skill to have today.
However, I, along with many other teens of this generation believe that the negative effects of social media strongly outweigh the positive effects. Globally, mental health issues have continued to rise over the past 50 years; this is widely believed to be due in part to the increasing presence of social media. Studies created by experts at onlinetherapy.com have shown that anxiety and depression among teens have largely increased due to the presence of social media. Social media makes it easy for teens to feel left out, compare themselves to others, and develop a feeling of loneliness.
The future generations of youth will continue to become more reliant on social media and mental health will continue to worsen if no action is taken. Teens must speak up about the negative power of social media and take back the control that it has had over them.
One effective way to improve anxiety, stress, and overall mental health is to take a social media break. This entails simply deleting all social media apps for any given period of time to reduce the anxiety, depression, or other negative mental effects that it may have on your life. I myself have tried this challenge and found it to be life-changing. I will admit that at first this “social media break” made me more stressed out than ever. I was constantly wanting to know what everyone else was doing and felt like I was isolated from the rest of the world. However, as my social media break went on I eventually stopped accidentally picking up my phone in the hopes that something new had happened and I adapted to the simpler life of no social media.
However, in today’s world, I think the idea of getting rid of social media is a lost cause and very unrealistic. I am not suggesting that social media should be shut down. I am simply opening people up to the idea of limiting their screen time and choosing to take a break from media every once in awhile.
I am not the only one who has attempted a social media break. Myla, a teen staff writer, and facilitator for VOX ATL, also participated in the challenge. In an interview, Myla stated, like many other teens, that she has been on social media since she was 11 years old and has used it nearly every day since then. When I asked Myla why she decided to take a break from social media, she stated, “Taking a break from social media has affected my life positively. Not checking my phone as soon as I wake up has allowed me to have a much more productive start to my day, and has allowed me to have mindful moments. Taking a break from social media has allowed me to be more engaged when I am around other people, and has removed some of my anxiety about beautifully capturing all of my moments. In a way, I think my break has allowed me to be more authentic, and less focused on posting my ‘highlight reels.’ “
Myla is not the only teen who has found social media breaks beneficial. In fact, a new study at the University of Chicago has shown that 58 percent of teens in the U.S. have participated in a social media break.
Like everything else in this life, social media has pros and cons, but it is important to not allow yourself to be fully consumed by your phone and miss out on everything that is right in front of you. Encouraging others to permanently delete social media apps is unrealistic and impractical in the world we currently live in. However, for all teens who are reading this, I strongly encourage you to try out a social media break for yourself and discover how much freedom there is in a silent phone.