Brainwashed by Society

Ayanna Martinez, Staff Writer

Young people are always on social media, whether it be with Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. When they are on these apps, they see their  family and friends as well as some aspects of what is happening in the world. All of this sounds great. It makes one think that all of this must make teens happy and feel more connected to society and the world.

These thoughts are wrong. The truth is all of this exposure to the world via online media is harmful to teens.  A closer look at Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat reveals that what teens see in addition to their social pages are  trending topics and promotions for the newest thing on the market. They see advertisements for the latest phones, clothes, or shoes and many other items marketed to teens.

If this were not enough, another factor is that teens on these sites – and throughout media – are bombarded with body image messages.  Sites promote the idea that people should be happy about who they are regardless of their skin color or how they look, but that doesn’t stop the images of perfection from showing up. These images truly affects the mentality of both younger kids and older ones because so much exposure to such images and content can have a negative effect on the individual.

Social media has corrupted our youth. Child Mind Institute, an an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders, did a survey with kids 12-14 about social media in early 2017. They report that “The survey results found that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all led to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness” in teens. This should not be surprising as social media disconnects you from the world. It gives you high expectations or a false reality of what life is supposed to be. Social media and society make teens feel they should act and look the way people look which causes girls and guys to change themselves to “fit in” or feel like they are like those they see online.

Instagram and Snapchat are the top negative influences of teen mental health. Project Helping is an organization that tries to increase mental wellness of individuals and their community. In March of 2018 they reported that “Studies show that because these platforms [Instagram and Snapchat] are highly visual, teens are exposed to images that are highly edited but are not cited as such. This can negatively affect young people’s self-esteem and self-image. It can also lead to bullying, depression, feelings of anxiety, and loneliness.”  This is true because people on Snap and Instagram don’t always show their real selves. Often people use filters and photoshop to cover blemishes and make them look the way they want instead of accepting themselves. It can really affect someone because it can make them not want to show themselves because they don’t look the way everyone on the screen “appears.”

Ultimately, teens should take time away from social media so they can understand the differences between reality and social media. Some are so stuck in the social media world that they forget about the people and things around them. Instead of wasting so much time on social media, teens should find other interests and activities to give their brain a rest from all of the false reality they see online. By taking a break, teens can use their time for something beneficial for themselves or someone else. Teens need to spend some time talking to other people face-to-face rather than just through a computer or cell phone screen.