There were a lot less options to do when the country first went into lockdown three years ago to deal with the rising number of Covid-19 cases. Americans were now required to socially isolate themselves and to find activities to keep them occupied as everyone was cooped up in their homes. Social media provided the solution to this. Following the initial lockdown in 2020, there was a significant increase in the number of users online, particularly teens. These teenagers turned to social media to avoid boredom, to stay in touch with their friends and family, whom they were unable to see due to the quarantine, as well as keep up to date on their schoolwork.
Teenagers’ mental health was seemingly declining in direct proportion to the amount of time they spent online. The self-isolation was harmful to the overall development and mental health of many young people. When the use of social media began to gradually have a damaging effect on kids’ daily lives, social media did little to help the situation and ultimately grew to be a bigger problem in and of itself. The twenty-four hours in a day seemed to be spent almost exclusively online. Teenagers’ ability to develop mental wellness was not supported by this reality. Social media sites like Instagram, SnapChat, and TikTok were starting to be used excessively and irresponsibly.
Social media usage has dramatically increased, yet there has been a clear absence of education about how to stay safe and use these platforms appropriately. There is always a chance for major risks to your safety and physical health, but I’m referring to the less obvious effects of excessive social media use, the negative effects it has on your mental health. Teenagers would occasionally spend hours online because there was no break from continual time spent on applications as you would normally get from school. This was risky because excessive social media use can harm kids by detracting from their studies, preventing them from getting enough sleep, exposing them to bullying, spreading rumors, and giving them a false perspective of how other people’s lives are.
It has been established in the past that excessive social media use can be distracting and push individuals, especially teenagers, to put off their obligations and give other things that seem less important a higher priority. Online usage in excess has been shown to interfere with sleep. While the pandemic was at its worst and most individuals were unable or unwilling to leave their homes, they spent the majority of their time in their rooms. Teenagers with irregular sleep patterns frequently slept throughout the day and stayed up late online. A poor sleep schedule has an adverse effect on cleanliness and eating routines. Due to the possibility of comments being placed on posts that are cruel, harsh, and occasionally disrespectful, social media also exposes teenagers to online bullying. Rumor-mongering is another way that cyberbullying can occur. Given that most students from the same school are unintentionally connected on social media, rumors can travel quickly. At my high school, I witnessed this firsthand when one of my peers put something online and a story was spread about them and the video they created was shared with the explicit intent of making fun of the creator.
This disturbing fact is the root of the poor self-worth, self-esteem, and body image that plagues the majority of young people. Furthermore, overusing social media can lead to false perceptions of others’ lifestyles and peer pressure. As a greater number of individuals become famous online with rise in well-known influencers, by persuading followers to act in a certain way, by creating an unjust standard. Influencers are drifting apart from the concept that there shouldn’t be a single definition of beauty. The notion that there is a single beauty standard that one should strive to meet is unrealistic because it is not representative of how most people look. This one example alone demonstrates the rise in body image issues which contribute to self harm. It can be difficult for young children to only see one perspective and way of being, which does not mirror them. It’s in our nature to compare our experiences with those of others. Social media reinforces this by giving users a peek into the lives of others and enabling frequent comparison.
Researchers have recently discovered a solution that could assist teens in creating a more positive relationship with social media. There is no way to outright forbid the use of social media, but there are ways to monitor how much is used, so the notion that you can prevent minors from using social media is preposterous. To make your time online more productive, try social media fasting and tolerance breaks. The reasoning behind this is because people experience issues with social media use during mindless scrolling since it interferes with their daily life. You can use social media more effectively if you break your habit of continual use of it. Instead of continuously scrolling through your social media in search of entertainment, you’ll be more likely to post something because you want to share it with your friends. Those who abstain from social media may also have more time in their day to do chores that they might otherwise put off. People can engage in interests they might not otherwise have the time to enjoy during this time away from social media. To be sure that your motives for using social media are genuine, it might be very helpful to abstain from it for a little while. Nobody’s mental health benefits from mindless, compulsive scrolling, especially teens whose brains are still developing.
Teaching teenagers and younger kids the value of doing anything other than remaining online, in my opinion, is the best way to offset the drawbacks of social media. Due of social media’s consistency throughout the past three years, it can be challenging to put down your phone. In a world where things are always being shut down, you might have these accounts that never changed. There is no longer a need to stay indoors all day, and it is crucial for everyone—especially young people—to concentrate on their mental health and do what they can to keep healthy. Now that we are past the COVID-19 lockdowns, it is vital to reiterate these dialogues. The ideal approach to do this is through social media fasting.