To what extent does social media affect teens?


Ludia Kim

From the wheel to automobiles and telegraphs to iphones, technology makes life easier. By 1997, social media had increased as 2.65 billion people began to utilize it. Today, social media is at its highest, 95% of its users are teenagers

According to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry teens neurologically do not think before they act, nor make reasonable decisions because “the frontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps us think before we act, develops later. This part of the brain is still changing and maturing well into adulthood.”

Social media may also negatively impact sleep. The blue light from the screens of cellphones disrupts the activation of the sleep chemical melatonin, resulting in less quality and quantity of sleep.

The debate on social media’s impact on teenagers continues. It is clear that social media has negative effects, including providing false information, lack of privacy, decreasing students’ academic success, creating personality and brain disorders, and facilitating cyber bullying.

In a 2018 study from CNN, showed that teens from 14-17 years of age that use social media at least for an hour a day, are twice more likely to get diagnosed with depression.

Kenneth Stokes, a school counselor at BHS, believes who, “for social media, those who are utilizing it should be mindful of how to use it and be more responsible as it affects others significantly whether or not if it’s harmful. Students are becoming less and less authentic by putting an image on social media, which results in becoming less of themselves and knowing who you truly are, thus creating an identity crisis.” 

Lisa McAlpine, a biology teacher at BHS, noticed different effects, “I notice that many students are much more distractible by the presence of their phones in general and as it concerns social media much more concerned about how others perceive them and are more critical about others. Social media at times gives students more access to information about a wider range of people and cultures but not always in a constructive way.  I also see students as more likely to accept the validity of information from social media because someone they ‘know’ has shared the information without looking at the root source of the information.”

Social media has also shown to be beneficial as it provides an easier way to spread information, communicate and ignite political change.

According to Pew Research Center, 81% of 13-17 year old teens feel more connected with their peers with social media. Stokes concludes by, “For teenagers it is socially hard to manage, I believe it is beneficial for connections with friends and families. Which, in my opinion, outweigh the negatives.”

McAlpine agrees, “It is useful for sharing some ideas long distance and with those I may never meet in person, but it’s still with people (or at least the types of people) I would interact with if I was at closer proximity.” However she stated, “Also knowing that life is not all social media….the connections you as an individual make with another individual are more likely to be lasting and beneficial than being connected to (insert name of celebrity or social influencer here) that you will never meet or have a conversation with.”

Junior Shania Muller says, “for younger people it can be dangerous because it leads to insecurities and changes in your morals and what you think it’s right. But if used right it could be used to inspire you.”

Junior Kristy Koelsch claims, “I like looking at it. It’s enjoyable I won’t lie. But I’m not obsessed. It helps me become more inspired and creative as a person. It exposes me to things I am passionate about.” 

Social media, is a useful device for communication and inspiration. Thus, to a major extent, impacts teens. It may spread false information and create personality disorders, but it also causes teens to expand themselves and become inspired.