Social media is a busy and powerful force of our modern society that also seems to have something to say. Whether it be about politics, fashion, technology, etc., one can learn about a wide variety of topics via just the click of a few buttons. As society is progressing, various social media platforms are often gaining traction as well and the social media voice is getting louder. Apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Tok Tok, and Facebook are demanding the attention of youth all over the world. Surveys have even shown that 90% of youth from the ages of 13-17 have used some form of social media. Youth often gravitate toward social media platforms from variety of reasons. Many desire to stay "plugged in" to society, their friends, etc. We want to feel as though we are an active part of a changing society, and we often turn to social media to try and accomplish that. Although social media can be an important factor that encourages youth to learn, stay connected, etc. and often provides them with the resources to do so, it also comes with its fair share of harmful attributes.
Although social media can be a wonderful way for youth to achieve an idea of what is going on in their own communities and, on a broader scale, the world around them, it can also prove to be extremely harmful to youth, specifically, their mental health. Studies have been conducted that have shown a strong correlation between social media use and depression in youth. An article highlighting how the heavy use of social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook may be affecting youth negatively shows a similar idea. The article states, "Teenage and young adult users who spend the most time on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms were shown to have a substantially (from 13 to 66 percent) higher rate of reported depression than those who spent the least time." Although we cannot accurately state that social media use directly causes depression, there is definitely a strong correlation between the two that is worth studying. Many experts also declare that this correlation can be attributed to the fact that the "connections social media users form electronically are less emotionally satisfying, leaving [kids] feelings emotionally isolated." This makes sense, for it is impossible to be able to interact with someone in a genuine way over social media. You may be forming a "connection" with someone via direct messaging, etc. but it is not the same as having a face-to-face conversation.
It is also worth stating that social media is damaging to many youth's self-esteem, which in turn can negatively impact mental health. When someone is scrolling through social media, they only see the best parts of someone's life, what they want you to see. More often than not, you never see what is going on behind the scenes. Therefore, social media creates an unrealistic picture of someone's life. An article entitled "Social Media and Self-Doubt"reflects a similar idea: "With social media, teens can curate their lives, and the resulting feeds read like highlight reels, showing only the best and most enviable moments...and there's evidence that those images are causing distress for many kids." Seeing only the best moments of someone's life could make someone doubt their own life and wonder why they aren't as happy as the people they see in pictures. It is easy to see how this idealized and fake picture of reality could encourage many youth to harbor feelings of deep-seated insecurity, which can be damaging to self-esteem in the long run.
To be frank, a person doesn't need social media to "stay connected." In fact, I believe that everyone in the world would be better off without it. If you truly want to be a part of society and in the changes that are happening around you, start small. Work on building genuine connections and interactions with people around you and in your own community. You don't need to cultivate a strong social media presence to be relevant. Prioritize your mental health and happiness, because that is so incredibly important.