Heads bent, eyes wide open, and thumbs moving at record time, we post, message, and check our social media accounts constantly.
Our parents and teachers are always telling us to spend less time on our phones and on the Internet. It’s bad for our eyes, our minds, we’re dependent on our phones, we’re becoming antisocial. Often, these comments are pushed away and ignored, but are these statements rooted in truth, or are they just myths?
Recent studies from Pew Research Center show that 71% of teens use more than one social media platform out of seven options. A survey done among AISB’s own HS students display that more than 85% use 5-9 different social network sites, Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp being among the most popular. In addition, 84% are on their phones, on social media, with an average of 3 hours per day.
These staggering statistics may or may not surprise you, but nevertheless, we may start to consider the negative impacts that it has on our society.
Among many other things, social networks make teens dependent, specifically, dependent on likes to feel good. Dr. Hyung Suk Seo, a professor at Korea University, found in a study that teenagers who are addicted to the Internet have an imbalance of chemicals in their brains, similar to that of people experiencing anxiety and depression. Teenagers also feel that social media is necessary in order to survive the day and to keep up with their friends on numerous social media platforms.
This is even more stressed by “streaks” (to keep streaks, you have to send a snap to someone and they have to snap you back), designed by Snapchat, one of most popular social media networks among AISB HS students, to keep users on the app constantly. In fact, a tenth grader says that they always feel the need to “check again” and to wonder “Did I get a message/notification yet?” In addition, 25% of students report that they could not spend a day without social media.
The Anti-social Aspect
Social media certainly seems to be creating an antisocial atmosphere, contrary to its name. Yes, you can connect with more people, over long distances, but what is the use of introducing yourself to new people if you can find out all their information online? This is one of the greatest issues in our society today: it is hard to talk to others because we are so used to “only showing the good side” of us on social media, says Angeline Close Scheinbaum in her book The Dark Side of Social Media.
Upon previous claims that students depend on social media, we recognize that it also serves as a large tool for distraction. Andrew Pontius, AISB MYP Coordinator, commented on “Homework: Is it Actually Bad for Us?”, asking, “When students do homework, are they just doing homework? Or are they on social media…” We explored this idea and found that 48% percent of students believe that the amount of time they spend on social media affects the time spent on homework. A 9th-grade student says that “I think we use our phones without knowing, whether it’s a quick check while doing homework, or a Netflix session after homework. I think that we would get our homework done a lot faster without our phones.”
The question we all need to ask ourselves is this: How important is social media to us, and is it worth it to risk losing so many things just to keep up with it?