Social Media: What’s the Point?

Molly Glus, Copy Editor

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Snapchat. Twitter. Instagram. Kik. Facebook. Ask.fm. Tinder. These are only a few names of the apps that have taken over the lives of this generation.

Athletic. Attractive. Funny. Smart. Social. Perfect body. Interesting life. No flaws. It’s what is expected nowadays, to be the “perfect” teenager with everything right and everything going for them. This ideal has been brought to this generation by nothing other than social media. On social media networks such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, teenagers are constantly posting and advertising their lives.

As this technology world continues to grow, social media has become more and more relevant in the daily lives of teenagers. According to Jean Kilbourne, author of the “Killing us Softly” series, teenagers have began to gloat about their lives and just how “great” they are. Now, teenagers are experiencing incredibly negative effects from these social media platforms. Teenagers should step away from social media because of the negative effects it introduces.

Social media is practically a necessity for the majority of teenagers. A recent study done by Common Sense Media reported that 75 percent of teenagers currently have a profile on social networking sites and that the percent is increasing. Also, teens who participated in CNN’s “#Being13 Inside the Secret World of Teens” even admitted to checking their social media feeds at least 100 times a day.

While social media is fun for teens to see the outside world just with a simple click, studies have shown that it is taking away from student’s attention spans and performance while in school.

In a survey taken by 30 Hershey High School students from all grades, 60 percent of students admitted to being on social media while school curriculum was being taught. Also, 90 percent of students said they tend to procrastinate school work or extracurriculars because of social media use for extensive amounts of time.

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Kaitlyn Kelley, sophomore, procrastinates her school work and chooses to spend her time on her Instagram feed. (Broadcaster/Molly Glus)

Now, with teenagers’ attention constantly driven toward social media, their image is reliant on what their feeds look like and the life they show to their followers. However, that constant demand for perfection through social media can lead to teenagers developing many insecurities about themselves.

In fact, in the aforementioned survey from all grades, 75 percent of students admitted to feeling insecure about themselves before, while, and after on social media.

However, this isn’t an issue just seen in Hershey. According to many celebrities, it is seen all around the world.

One of the most talked about issues that has arised from social media is eating disorders, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Multiple studies by this association have linked the exposure of thin body standards to eating disorders and body dissatisfaction in both women and men. According to The Independent the number of children and teenagers seeking help for an eating disorder has risen by 110 percent in the past three years.

Now, many are beginning to speak out on this body image issue that has been created. Australian teenager Emma O’Neill, with over half a million followers on Instagram, decided to quit the platform. She explained that it is not because she was suffering from eating disorders, but because she believed social media is “contrived perfection to get attention”. She added that she does not want to continue to promote a company that gives so many teenagers such harsh personal challenges.

Likewise, according to Fox News, Kate Winslet has a no social media and limited electronics policy in her home. She believes that “it has a large impact on women’s self esteem, because all they do is design themselves for people to like them.” Winslet added that she is well aware of the eating disorder rate rising because of social media, and that is another reason she is a firm believer in her no social media rule.

Social media does allow teenagers to be exposed to faster communication, to be introduced to new things, and to experience our new technology based world. According to Procon, information is spread on social media 50 percent faster than any other media outlets. Also, 88 percent of teenagers reported that social media helps them stay in touch with friends who they cannot see regularly.

Despite that, consider the alternative. Think about if you were the person struggling to get your homework done because you can’t take your eyes off your Twitter feed. Think about if you struggled to look at yourself in the mirror because you know you aren’t like all the skinny and “perfect” people on your Instagram feed. Once you consider this, go do something about it.

It is understood that teenagers are obsessed with social media, so it wouldn’t make logical sense to ever try to persuade them to log off the social media world completely. However, it is encouraged to look at the social media universe and see what needs to be changed.

Spread positivity and kindness to make sure no one is left questioning who they are because of a post or a tweet. Take the initiative and lead the way for other teenagers to turn the social media world into a kinder place. A small handful of people being kind online can create a movement of people who change the social media world.