In our current day and age, social media has dominated the lives of all people, no matter
the age. I use it in my daily life to communicate with friends and search for information. From Tiktok and Instagram to Snapchat and Twitter, it seems almost inescapable.
But there is one word that encapsulates the social media platform. Addictive. It can lead to a decline in mental health, especially for teens. Social media has played a notorious role in my life and no matter how damaging I knew it could be, it still took priority over everything. It took priority over relationships with family and friends. Priority over grades and homework. Priority over my own well-being and mental health. It created a negative environment full of rumor-spreading, low self-esteem, bullying, and comparison.
Based on national surveys and population-based studies from the therapy service “onlinetherapy”, there has been a significant change in mental health among teens. The overall findings shared that 58% of Americans have experienced a negative effect from social media use, and of those affected, 64% have experienced anxiety as well. More statistics showed that 51% experienced body image issues, 56% experienced depressive episodes, 52% have become dissatisfied with their life, and 52% have developed a fear of missing out.
It’s fair to say that social media has become the thief of joy and overall happiness.
There can be positives to social media networks such as seeing what your friends are up to or being inspired by influencers. While it has allowed me to reconnect with old friends, raise awareness on issues that are important to me, and find trendsetters to follow, I found myself comparing the status of my life to others, some of whom I may not even know.
What we don’t know is what goes on after the quick snapshot or what is happening off camera. I can speak for myself in saying that a smile isn’t always genuine and it can hide a lot of emotions.
I tried everything to limit the time spent on social media. From setting time limits on certain apps to taking breaks from my phone for days at a time. But the power of social media seemed to dominate my life.
What really changed my perspective is the emotion of distress I felt when comparing my life to others rather than appreciating what is going on in the moment. I wanted to make a change to that by being more engaged with my surroundings whether it was at family gatherings or dinner with friends.
I’ve learned to stop investing myself in other peoples’ lives when I could be living my own. I’ve learned to discipline myself, leading me to have a whole new perspective on my priorities. But most of all, I’ve learned to cherish every single moment off the screen whether it is big or small. Each one counts.