In the Age of Social Media — A Teen's View
Social media use by teens has continued to grow, but what impact does it have on their social lives?
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In 2018, the presence of social media is almost inescapable. Everywhere you go you see people scrolling through Instagram, checking Facebook statuses and posts, and taking pictures of whatever event is happening at the moment to put on Snapchat. And the social media platforms don’t even stop there. Now, sharing your life is easier than ever, and the pressure keeps growing to keep everyone updated on how busy you are or how great your life is.
As a teen in the age of social media, I am very aware of how difficult it can be to escape the need to share your experiences with everyone. That being said, I believe that there are some positives inside the negative air surrounding social media use today.
With everyone being involved in each others’ lives 24/7, it’s very easy to be sucked into the feeling of being left out or of wanting to present the best version of an event to your followers, whether they are friends or strangers. As humans, we constantly look to other people for validation, and social media helps us find this validation. But, craving that constant human connection can be pretty damaging.
As a teen, my social life is pretty important to me, and social media helps me stay in contact with friends I haven’t seen in years. I will admit that sometimes I feel left out of activities my friends are doing that I couldn’t do with them, and I know my friends have felt the same. So, even though social media platforms allow people to keep in touch with friends, it also promotes feelings of missing out on social events.
This next issue is definitely the most commonly talked about surrounding social media: Self-esteem and how it impacts how teens view themselves. Going back to the theme in social media where everyone is seeking outside validation, posting on any platform usually has a positive undertone, which can be detrimental to how teens view their own social life. We strive to be liked by everyone in our social circle (both in real life and online), which can damage mental health and upset teens if they do not get a lot of “likes” on some platforms.
Of course, this is not the case for everyone. Movements have started encouragingsocial media users to not care about how many likes they have, but rather to encourage people to post what matters to them the most, and to try to break the stigma around not having enough people liking or commenting on your post. It is difficult though, coming from a daily user of social media. Even I have archived some of my posts in the past that did not get seen by enough people. It’s a bad habit to have, but most teens are well aware of this practice, which is why people are beginning to have a more carefree attitude towards social media use.
We constantly see news about the negative effects of social media, but we forget that it allows us a different facet of human interaction. You can keep in touch with old friends from school, you can find long lost family members who live across the country, and you can even join a whole group of people you’ve never met before and find common ground with them. Who knows where the internet and social media will go next?
Photo courtesy of Audrey Payne