Social Media and Teens

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Category: Communication
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“How do I look in this picture? Are you sure I do not look fat? Then why am I not getting a lot of likes?” To many millennials, this conversation may seem very familiar. Every time my friends and I get together to hang out, it seems as though the only mission they have is to take a picture that is “Instagram-worthy,” post the picture and then wait anxiously to see who likes it. Everywhere you go people are consumed by their smartphones.

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For instance, the other night, I was eating at a restaurant next to this couple who did not speak one word to each other the entire night. I was shocked watching them as they had their version of “date night” which involved no eye contact and constant interaction with their friends via social media. As a child, I grew up in a household where my parents regulated my, along with my siblings, cellphone usage. They knew the importance of face to face interaction. Regardless of my upbringing, our generation has slowly become obsessive with social media- so how is this affecting us? The relationship between social media use and the effects of the young adult population is essential to understanding our society. Everyone should become familiar with the topic and understand the benefits and consequences of his or her social media use.

Communication Social media has changed the way we communicate. These platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, have manifested the need to broadcast everyone’s lives continually. Throughout the day, celebrities will broadcast their daily routines including what they eat and what they are wearing for the day, otherwise known as their“outfit of the day”. These posts instantly go to all their friends and followers who then, think they have the right to give their opinions. This changes the way teenagers view themselves, which makes them constantly think of how other people will like their posts- through how many likes, comments, and views they will receive. It is more than just a number to some people; some take it very personally.

Whether it is a forever post on Instagram or just a few second Snapchat, social media has created a place where people are in constant contact with their friends, which can be good and bad. Through social media, people always have access on updates of people’s lives, but it can also be an obsession. As Adam Price of Psychology Today wrote, “A lonely college student collects as many friends as he can on Instagram in hopes that they will increase the number of likes he gets when he posts. As empty as it may be, he feels a sense of validation each time someone acknowledges him online. A teenage girl spends hours on an anonymous chat site, hoping to find a sympathetic ear.” The author explains his views on how social media has consumed our generation and separated teenagers from communicating with the outside world. He had found this generation often focuses on their online life and friends, rather than their real life.

On the contrary, social media introduces people to the rest of the world. Everyone is now able to easily communicate with anyone across the world within a few seconds. This enables people to both find friends and resources from any location. This can be a good escape for teenagers from their drama-filled lives. They can learn about different cultures and locations from anyone who would talk or post about it. Not only does it allow people to communicate, but it has also brought news back to this generation. Whenever something happens in one’s community or somewhere in Europe, social media will broadcast it. It allows teens to be involved in politics and have a global awareness of what is going on around the world. Through an interview with Doctor Thomas Nugent, it was found he believed that he could research his abroad trip much more efficiently by following blogs by people who have been to the location to find what to do.

Also, he believes that the news is broadcasted all over social media and he can stay up to date without watching the news. Social media is a way to stay connected and informed on the people and world around us- from politics to travel. Body Image Because teenagers are always on these accounts, they compare themselves to others. Body image problems are very easily accessible because we are continuously looking at people’s perfect profiles, bodies, and faces. Teenagers are found to feel the pressure to have the perfect profile.

We are always comparing ourselves, and it can become dangerous when people are having negative thoughts about themselves because of their inability to look like someone else. It exposes young people to certain beauty standards and cultural ideals that can often lead to the development of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Throughout the internet and social media, there are false advertisements of how a particular person should look and how looking that way will lead to happiness. These ads often show bodies that are unrealistic and unrepresentative of the general population.

When these images are all over social media, and the amount the generation uses social media, it is understandable how some people can stir up feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, or even depression. In the USA Today Magazine, it was stated, “psychologists and researchers have linked this spike in suicide rates among young girls to the prevalence of perfection standards that social media sites create.” This shows how if social media is not understood when someone is using it, that is can potentially be dangerous to his or her mental health. Just as social media can fuel eating disorders for some people, it can also help others find the strength to seek and follow up treatment. It has shown also to be a platform that promotes healthy lifestyles. The internet is filled with positive and negative messages being sent out. It has been seen that celebrities often will show themselves without makeup and promote loving the body one was born in.

A social media that offers a positive place for young people is there. There are many places where people can truly express themselves, be inspired by other people, share their passions and find like-minded people. Many social media feeds of food and fitness can be used as a positive tool to encourage teenagers to eat well and be active. Lindsay Kite, who did a study on bridging media and health to promote positive body image and health, wrote, “The findings of this study also suggest that women who engage with a healthy media curriculum can develop and cultivate strategies to resist distorted health discourse by writing body image narratives that bear witness to their own lived experiences.” Social media can be a positive thing for teens to be engaged in because it shows that they have good people to look up to and follow in their healthy footsteps.

Years ago you would never see a woman posting a bathing suit picture on social media unless she was a victoria’s secret model or “bone-skinny”, however throughout the last few years, a movement started where women are gaining the confidence to post pictures of their curves and cellulite. For instance, people like Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence are “body positive instagrammers” who show their following the beauty in imperfection. This movement is a huge step in the right direction to teach young girls everywhere that every single body is beautiful, no matter the size. The ”Norm” of Society Social media has integrated itself into every aspect of society.

Everyone seems to have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Someone without social media is “out of the loop” and disconnected from the rest of the world is how most people would think. It has become something that people feel a necessity to be a part of. Sometimes, it can become an obsession, where people feel they constantly have to be on it. For teenagers, they should not only experience the world through their smartphones and accounts. In “Our Social Media Obsession” by Larry D. Rosen, he explored the impact of technology by completing a large study looking at a variety of technology and media uses across members of four generations.

Through that study he found, “Social Media Usage (derived from our recently published Media, Technology Usage and Attitude Scale) was best predicted by only one variable: anxiety about not being able to check in with new communication modalities as often as you’d like.” This showed that people would become unstable if they were unable to check their social media accounts. Because of this, there is an understanding that people become dependent on social media being available anytime they need.

Another finding was, “Number of Facebook Friends was best predicted by three variables (in order of contribution): total social media sites at which the participant had an account, negative attitudes toward technology (a negative predictor) and anxiety about not being able to check in with new communication modalities as often as they would like.” Anxiety plays such a significant role in the use of social media. The study proved that across all generations social media played a large role in people’s life.

People can use the increase in social media use to their advantage. Through work, someone is always able to find coworkers on sites like LinkedIn. Also, when you need to, you are always able to contact someone which can keep college students close to their home friends or if someone moves, he or she are always connected to people from years before. Through interviews with both Julia Chelak and Doctor Thomas Nugent, it has been found that people from all ages agree that one of the reasons why they engage in social media activity is because they can stay close with people. Almost everyone has social media accounts, and because of this, it is incredibly easy to find people on social media and use it to talk with people. Julia uses it to keep in touch with her friends from home by following her high school friends on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

Thomas can talk to anyone from both high school, college, and work. Also, both of these individuals have LinkedIn profiles that help them advance their job network. Julia, being a teenager, has greatly benefited from being exposed to many job opportunities from a young age. Thomas also can find new people that are interested in working for him. Social media has been a way that people take job searching and friendships to a new level- never before have people been able to be so involved as young adults with their names “out there.” Social media is near inescapable; it is in the palm of many people’s hands almost 24/7.

The challenge is to create a positive social media revolution- to celebrate the positives of social media and try to decrease the negatives. It is very beneficial for the population to understand the full picture of social media. Social media is very prevalent in today’s society, and because almost every teenager has multiple accounts, it is crucial to know both the positive and negative effects it could be having on our population. Whether you believe social media is positive, negative, or a mixture it is going to stay in everyone’s lives for a long time. From checking your phone on a date or dissocializing from your friends during a TV show, be smart with social media.

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Social Media and Teens. (2021, Oct 19). Retrieved from