Column By J1 Reporter Marin Krenzer
These days there are impossible standards that are set much closer to home, not necessarily exclusively by models or celebrities but by classmates and friends. With social media, teens post their entire lives through things like posts, feeds, highlight reels, showing only the best and prestigious moments while hiding struggles, challenges, and bad days. The abundance of evidence that these images are causing distress for many kids is alarming.
Over the years there have been numerous different studies and finalized research concluding that social media is linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, stress, and hindered social skills. This common decline in mental health is rooted at the desire of users focusing on the need to gain “likes” or followers. It is a never ending desire to increase self-worth or popularity. The imaginary goal is never met and teens slowly slip into a world of mental health decline. One of the main reasons for these health issues is when teens make toxic comparisons with the lives of friends online, most commonly, “Fomo” or fear of missing out. Other connections between social media and mental health are still being researched.
But it’s not too late to escape- there are many ways people can reduce social media use. To improve mental health, professionals recommend deleting apps off your phone, turning off unimportant notifications, and setting limits for screen time. Deleting social media apps off of your phone, even if only for a short period of time, has proven to increase positive self image in recent studies. Taking a break from apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or Twitter can only do good for you and your self esteem.
Turning off unimportant notifications is proven to be a helpful resource in reducing social media use. Notifications for parents and maybe two close friends are recommended to be left on, but everything else is distracting you from going about your daily life with improved self esteem. If you leave all notifications on you may see some girls have posted together, and you were not invited. This affects teens’ in such a drastically negative way, and silencing the notifications is the best way to change that. Setting a limited screen time on your phone is another helpful source for reducing social media’s negative effects. The temptation to return to social media will be strong, so setting a screen time limit will forcibly reduce social media use. A screen time limit is a setting on your phone in which your phone will no longer be in use after a certain amount of time. This can force teens to find new creative outlets instead of wasting hours a week on platforms that ultimately tear their self esteem and themselves down.
Being a teenage girl in today’s technologically advanced society is quite the struggle, and I’m speaking from personal experience. This summer my friends and I spent a week using nothing but flip phones. It was truly the best time we have ever had and our parents mentioned our moods had improved dramatically. I strongly recommend trying this with a couple friends, and you will see how your self image improves. However, there are now days where I am on my phone or iPad for hours and hours, but there are also days where I don’t use my electronic devices at all. I have noticed how my own self image has changed since social media accounts have been increasing popularity. Social media is a never ending battle for girls. Even if you don’t intend to, you will find yourself negatively comparing yourself to any girl on your social feed. This beats your self image to a pulp, ultimately destroying any true, pure confidence you have ever had. I recommend taking frequent breaks, or deleting Instagram for a period of time.
Social media’s negative effects on our self esteem and impossible standards set much closer to home, most commonly with friends and peers. By giving into the media’s vicious cycle, your mental health declines rapidly. However, this does not mean we cannot escape it. When teens learn to delete apps off phones, turn off unimportant notifications, and set limits for screen time, there will be at least some changes and improvements to self esteem.