Realizing How Social Media Impacts Teens

Amina Sankoh, Staff Writer

What is the first thought that comes into your head when you hear the words social media?

Your answer probably depends on your experiences with social media or, perhaps, your age.

Social media has been around for roughly 20 years; it’s been built into our society and the way that it has developed over time is amazing – and totally terrifying. What makes it terrifying is the way it makes us feel. Even though social media continues to pick at our lives we can’t seem to get away from it; we’re attached and addicted. As many teens can agree, social media has its pros and cons. With social media, we can connect with people, build relationships, and share content; but we can also be influenced by it to the point where it becomes overwhelming.

The term “Self Image” means many different things to people, but one common thread in all definitions is that it involves how people view themselves. According to teens, social media is what impacts people’s self-image the most. Monica Anderson and Jinjiang of Pew Research report in “Teens and their Experiences on Social Media”, “45% of teens say they feel overwhelmed by all the drama on social media, while roughly four-in-ten say they feel pressure to only post content that makes them look good to others or that will get lots of comments or likes. Others believe social media has had a negative impact on their self-esteem.” This exemplifies how social media has the power to make people feel negative about themselves and what they do. Our society revolves around social media; it is a ubiquitous part of our lives that creates both positive and negative feelings. 

How teens feel about the topic of social media is in line with how most others feel about it as well. Clarissa Silva of HuffPost wrote about social media in “Social Media’s Impact on Self- Esteem.” Silva states, “Social media has been linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism, and decreased social skills.” Her point is that social media can severely impact people, more specifically mental health. This can later hold some back in life and cause people to overthink everything they do.

As teens, most of our lives are surrounded by and filtered through social media. Social media is a platform that lets us share content, connect with people, and build relationships. Although social media allows us to do these things it can also impact us negatively. Most of us understand how social media surrounds our lives and how it can impact us negatively like Paint Branch freshman Brianna Brodnax who feels that it has affected her communication. Brodnax says, ” I think social media has decreased my social skills, mostly because during quarantine I was talking to my friends online and I got so used to communicating via text. So when I actually got back to school, the way we communicated was different because the way we talk online isn’t how you talk in real life.” She recommends that teens limit their use of social media because it could be harmful. 

Alysha Sesay, a junior, feels similarly about the impact social media has had on her, though she focuses on how she feels about posting.  She states, “Social media has severely impacted my life. I don’t think I would be who I am or act how I act without it. I honestly feel like I’d be happier and more accepted toward myself if I was not on social media. Every time I posted something on social media, thoughts would roam around my head– like if people would like it or thought I looked bad which is the reason that I don’t post anymore. I constantly worry about things like that.” 

Ultimately, how social media affects teens depends a lot on how teens interact with it and their experiences with it. It can affect you in many different ways depending on the type of person you are.