Social Media: the best and worst thing to come out of the 21st century?

by Jack Tranter, Head Boy

Social media has become a massive part of our lives. Whether it’s reading a news article on Instagram, or watching a new craze on TikTok, social media is used for hours upon hours every single day. Like technology in general, social media has both an upside and a downside. And when it comes to the social media effects on teens, those pros and cons are particularly significant.

On the positive side, platforms like Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram can be lifesavers for teens that want to stay connected with their friends or to have some time to themselves and relax by watching some YouTube. Social media was especially helpful in the pandemic as it entertained the population all the way through lockdowns. We all know social media can be a great thing, but as the world is moving on, the world of social media is becoming a concerning place.

In recent years I feel social networks have stopped being happy places. It is no secret that some parts of some social media have turned into toxic battlegrounds, seemingly built for people to argue in. A cloud of negativity has been cast by people abusing these networks which has had a devastating effect on many, especially today’s teens. Many experts believe that the constant overstimulation of social networking shifts the nervous system into fight-or-flight mode. As a result, this makes disorders such as ADHD, teen depression and teen anxiety worse. Social media also provides a space in which teenagers can encourage each other to engage in unhealthy and dangerous behaviours. Hence, teenagers with eating disorders or those who self-harm can connect with others to talk about their self-destructive routines. In these ‘safe’ online spaces, obsessive calorie counting, fasting, constant competition in beauty and other unhealthy acts are accepted and encouraged.

As I said before, social media is a great tool that we are lucky enough to have in our pocket, but using it the right way is crucial. When using social media, you should always come away from it feeling yourself and feeling happy. If you are finding this isn’t happening, then you way need to limit the time you spend on it or have a break from it completely.

I want to suggest some great links below that can help a lot of people understand a little bit more about social media in today’s world. – this will take you to the website of the 2020 film The Social Dilemma. The film and their website dives head first into the dark truth of social media. I highly recommend the film. – If you feel as if you need support with your mental health or you need some information about social media, please use this link. Childline’s tips and techniques, ideas and inspiration, can help you feel more in control. And you can access them in your own time, at your own pace.

Remember: when on-line, be yourself. Don’t try and change to fit in. Be you because you are great!

Less scrolling, more living!

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