As technological advancements have revolutionized every aspect of society- from community interactions to the ways students learn- consequences do arise, without a doubt. However, the plethora of social media and online platforms at this generations’ disposal has no direct relationship to the adolescents sinking into depression and anxiety. It may have an indirect link, augmented by parental and social pressures as well as school stress, but it is not the sole cause. It is comparable to putting a gun on a table: one can use it as a defense mechanism in good intention to protect themselves, or one can disgustingly decide to massacre others. A teenager can use social media to connect with others around the world, their friends and family who live elsewhere, or simply just sharing photos of experiences they’ve had. Or, they can make the wrong decision and use it as a tool for seduction, isolating themselves, or cyberbullying– this fosters the anxiety, the depression. It all comes down to the choices one makes: it is rooted in the values instilled in an adolescent growing up, the parents and friends that surround them, and their home lives and school environments.
Social media is often used as an outlet by students– regardless if the post/commentary is intended to empower others or shield insecurities one may be experiencing. Due to parents and education systems not giving students the proper coping mechanisms to transform their insecurities and hardships into strength and growth, teens often resort to overusing their online platforms and using them as a detriment to themselves. I have witnessed many cases that support that when one’s depression is on the rise, they begin to use social media more often to hide their feelings, isolate themselves, and show “their followers” that they are perfectly fine; this is often displayed by inappropriate posts that have a tendency to reemerge in a teenager’s future.
Although it is a parents responsibility to teach their kids about social media safety and regulating their use, many students endure dysfunctional home lives; they may not all have the opportunity to learn how to cope with stress or pressures in a healthy fashion. The consequences of using social media are not often taught in schools, which is why adolescents face an epidemic of cyberbullying, nude photography, or even illegal photos and posts. The equation of school, parental, societal and self pressure is a very likely and high cause of stress. Students remove themselves from the world of anxiety they face by using social media to relax or destress themselves. When students begin logging into their social media platforms in the classroom, it is a case of disengagement and lack of connection between the student and the content being covered in class by the teacher; if school curriculum was as relevant, intriguing, and stimulating for students as their media (which is certainly can be), they would participate and focus consistently and coherently.
Personally, social media is something I use to share my experiences, express my opinions, and keep in touch with my friends and family. I also run a personal blog where I comment on articles or topics I see or read about in the media. In regards to sharing photography on instagram and snapchat, I admit it consumes time, but to me, it provides a chance to catch up with those who I don’t get to see very often or simply post photos of my friends and I or share the special events I attend, for example. I have not experienced any sort of mental illness from social media use per se, but I have dealt with various cyberbullying issues and a sexual assault through social media in the past. Both situations involved kids who hadn’t received the proper education regarding social media use and/or came from tumultuous households; this is what led to their irresponsible and morally wrong choices. I believe strongly that it is how teens are guided and educated that leads them to make these decisions surrounding social media use– for better or for worse.