Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, among other social media outlets, have all found their way to the center of people’s lives, shaping public and personal interactions. Social media’s effects are momentous in the prodigious negative influence they exert on today’s generation. More than ever, people are becoming heavily influenced by their social media accounts every day, which has major implications on behavior, self presentation, and values.
Much data has been collected revealing the life-transforming effects of social media and cellphones. According to Common Sense Media, 75% of American teenagers have social media profiles and many of them don’t even remember a time without access to the Internet. It cannot be overstated that we are truly writing history with the advanced technology that has allowed for us to become dependent on our smartphones.
Never before has one single, defining factor shaped a generation in such a way that people all over the world share common experiences through their smartphones, but never has such a factor occurred that has contributed to laziness and less desire for independence and initiative.
Teens are putting off their responsibilities and are in no rush for the freedoms that come with adulthood. According to an article by Jean M. Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, 22% less seniors work now than in the late 1970s. After all, independence comes at a price: hard work to earn one’s own money.
A bit surprisingly, the period of adolescence is being stretched farther than ever before. Behaviors such as dating, hanging out with friends unsupervised, and the urge to get one’s driver’s license have all declined. With smartphones, it’s easier to connect with friends through social media than making the effort to see them in person.
The human desire to please people also plays a major role in how we use social media. In today’s culture, not only teenagers, but the majority of social media users are becoming more artificial than ever in how they depict their lives. When pictures seem too good to be true, they are probably not.
Yet many who do not realize this are affected by the unrealistic posts of their friends and try to compare their lives to others, resulting in low self-esteem and the desire to reach unattainable expectations. More and more, superficiality is becoming the hallmark of today’s culture.
Following 2011, incidents of teenage depression have considerably risen. There is no doubt that social media and abusive smartphone use have contributed to unhappiness, loneliness, and drops in self-esteem. Much of the affliction that troubles these depressed teens is hidden behind the screens. A wise solution to this problem is to delete one’s social media accounts for good, or to simply just take breaks.
One does not have to be depressed, however, to want a break from the drama and artificiality of social media. Student Hailey Hirmez shared her views on social media. Although she would say social media is “fun to use to interact with people,” she agrees it’s addicting and causes people to need to “constantly keep up with the same image on the screen and in person”. She decided to delete the Instagram app from her phone for a month, which she believes will help her get homework done faster by eliminating a major distraction from her life.
By: Lauren Mansy