Social Media is Not Socializing

In today's society, it seems as if teens have their phones glued to their faces. Whether they are texting, sending snaps, or scrolling through Instagram, teens always have access to the internet. While the internet can have some perks, teens can be negatively affected by social media, and sometimes they don’t even notice. 

In 2018, Pew Research Center did a study on teens and how they view social media. In the study, they questioned teens ages 13-17 and asked them a multitude of questions about social media. They asked questions such as: how they viewed it, and if they used it, and how much. When they asked the teens if they believed social media had a positive or negative impact on kids their age, 31% said it was positively impacting kids their age, and 24% said that social media negatively impacts teens. However, the mass majority, 45%, said that social media has neither a positive or negative effect on teens. They said that the 45% most likely responded with that because they had not thought about social media as anything other than a way to waste time or they had not been aware of the fact that they are being affected. This data shows how many teens are unaware of the possible effects that social media could have.

One of the main reasons teens can lose both self-confidence and self-esteem is because of how much people fake their life and how they look. When on social media there are thousands of people like influencers and celebrities that make their life look perfect and make themselves look super good. However, most of these posts are fake and people photoshop themselves or fake who they are online, and it can make these unrealistic beauty standards that are impossible to live up to. Teens feel like they need to achieve these standards to be happy in life but that’s not true. Malta High school sophomore, Jasmine Hawes, says that she has deleted social media because of bullying and has been affected by the beauty standards of social media. She said, “ When I see those posts by models, I kind of feel insecure because I'm like oh they are really pretty and I’m just here.” 

When talking with Malta High school guidance counselor, Kate Webb, she was asked about whether or not students/teens are affected by social media and the standards social media portrays, she said “I feel like social media really does put out a lot of altered images. There is photoshop and other apps out there where people can put filters on. So it kind of gives a different version of what the person actually is. Even in a regular photo somebody can look different then they do in person. It just captures an image so when people see that they kind of put that as their standard of what to adhere to.” She also believes that teens are using social media too young and aren’t seeing the full picture and because of this they [students] are feeling less of themself. She states, “For me, I see somebody who is happy and doing good things. They feel like it's a competition because one person is doing this, so I have to do this. Instead of being happy for them, and celebrating their successes it’s making students feel less than themselves…”

Teens experience social media in different ways; therefore, it is not always negative. There are positive things on social media that can affect teens. Those teens that experience social media in a more positive way say this is because they are able to connect with their friends and family more often. They are able to see what their distant family is doing and they are able to get to know those family members more than they would've without social media. Teens are able to connect not only with family and friends but also with the rest of the world. They are able to see what is happening in different countries and be caught up with current events. They may also come to understand the different cultures of the world a little better. Teens can learn new things like how to improve on something, a new skill or hobby, and/or how to apply for something like a college or job. 

Sophomore Cash Salsbery has benefited from social media. When responding to whether or not he had ever changed/done something because of social media he said, “I have but it was something good like showing how to improve on something, like how to get better grades and how to get in touch with colleges and stuff like that and it has helped out a lot.”

Following up with Webb, she said, “everybody uses social media for different things. For me, I see my family that is distant a lot more. I get to know them on a different level because I get that interaction and that's positive. I also follow fitness people. I follow school counselors on there. I'm learning a lot more instead of kind of being out of the loop. I get to learn about what other people are doing in the classroom.”

Teens have mixed views and opinions about social media and some teens do not have an opinion. They do not view social media as anything other than a source of entertainment. Whether it is positive or negative, helpful or not, or a way to reach others, social media can and will always have an effect on people even if they do not realize it.