Student Story: Is Social Media Destroying Us?

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Commentary By: Julia Jaquez, Senior, Camden Academy Charter High School, Camden, N.J.

A recent BBC news article “Is social media bad for you?” questions our mental health and how our daily lives are affected by social media. According to the article, we spend roughly two hours liking, sharing and commenting on posts. 

Social media has allowed us to expand ourselves, contact people from across the globe, and make new friends. It also reduces feelings of isolation, allows personal expression and builds a business.

However, there is also a dark side. While it does come with benefits, it can also be detrimental to our mental health. A study has found that people who use these platforms are more susceptible to mental health problems. Recently researchers associated online social networks with various mental health disorders. The increase of suicide by youth has increased since the last decade. The newest generation (Gen Z) reports to have the highest rate of depression and anxiety. Many believe this is due to the excessive need to be on social media. 

As a teenager, I don’t see it affecting me, but I have seen others. They get caught up with the amount of followers and likes that they have.If you don’t have a certain number of Instagram followers, you will be looked down upon. It makes people feel insecure and unworthy. 

Many people are now making a name for themselves on social media, so it is important to have a lot of followers. Our perspective of ourselves can change from positive to negative. Your reality can change. We all want to feel accepted and loved and, with the concept of social media, it can be hard. You may keep refreshing the page to see how many likes you have, if it’s not enough you take the post down. Instead of wanting to capture the moment, you’re actually thinking about capturing the likes.

Internet addiction has also become a phenomenon. Many of the symptoms are just like being addicted to drugs/alcohol/nicotine, and trying to break the habit can lead to abstinence syndrome. Researchers are hoping to gain more knowledge on the illness.

There are steps people can take to avoid plummeting into a spiral of social media depression. One example is privatizing all of your social media accounts. This will limit who can view, comment, and share your pictures. Another example is to completely turn off commenting. Having your social page in the public eye, anyone is allowed to comment on it. That could increase the risk of cyberbullying. 

The internet and social media outlets are going to continue to expand over the next few years. That’s why it is essential to be aware of the dangers and take cautionary steps.

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