Social Media is Not Healthy for Teens

Cam Smith, Staff Reporter

I got Instagram in the 4th grade. Despite the age limit being 13, I was 8 years old scrolling through my feed seeing what the “perfect image” was, and that’s what I strived to be. 

A Pew Research Center study found that 81% of teens feel more connected to their friends through social media. Most teens reported that the benefits of social media outweigh the risks, that social media is worth having. However,  the statistics say differently. 

Instagram was created in the 2010s as a fun photo-sharing app. A recent study by The Child Mind Institute found that most teenagers and young adults who spend their time on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms were shown to have a substantially higher rate of reported depression from those who do not use social media. (13-66%). Not just a fun photo-sharing app. 

The earlier an individual starts on social media, the greater impact it has on them, especially in young girls. The beauty standard for girls consists of being skinny, but only in certain places, light skin, blue eyes, blonde hair, the list goes on. 

This is  detrimental to girls’ confidence and social media perpetuates this unrealistic beauty standard even more. One of the leading causes of body dysmorphia and other eating disorders is the beauty standard.  A Macquarie University study revealed that even 30 minutes spent on social media apps can make women fixate negatively on weight and appearance.  

Social media takes a huge chunk of our time daily. Spending 3 hours online takes away from doing something far more valuable that’s good for our well-being such as spending time outside, exercising, participating in art or sports, or spending time with family and friends.

Another danger of social media would be cyberbullying. Kids will say things that they would never say to your face in one hundred years online. According to a study done by the Pew Research Center 59% of US teens have been bullied or harassed online, and a similar share say it’s a major problem for people their age.  

 I would be a hypocrite if I said I have never used or enjoyed social media. There are some pros to social media. Keeping in touch with friends and family, speeding up communication, and being a creative outlet are just a few benefits, but they do not outweigh the costs. 

Two weeks ago, I decided to take a break from social media, which includes Snapchat, Instagram and Tik Tok. As any normal teenager would be, I wasn’t used to waking up and not mindlessly scrolling through Tik Tok. It was weird at first, but in these two weeks, I have noticed a significant change in my life. 

I have noticed that I’m living more in the moment, I’m not so sucked into my phone like I was before. I’m not saying I don’t miss seeing what my friends are up to on their Snapchat stories or what the latest Tik Tok trend is, but I do see myself happier without social media. 

Social media is not healthy for teenagers and especially not for an 8-year-old girl. That image of the “perfect appearance” I strived to be shouldn’t be in any young person’s mind. I’m left wondering: Is social media for teens really worth it?