Being a teenager in this generation means you will more than likely be engaged in a form of social media. Be it TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter, the apps undoubtedly take up a huge chunk of our lives. But this is affecting people now more than ever in ways that weren’t even considered when social media was first created.
At first, social media existed as a way to connect to society. By posting content such as photos and videos onto social media feeds, we can almost immediately share what’s going on in our lives with acquaintances, relatives and friends. However, it is argued that social media nowadays has lost sight completely of its original intentions as a platform. Social media has become flexible enough to be used in various other ways now. And so, as teenagers we’re all left with the same question: is social media doing more harm than good?
Of course, we’re all aware of the negative impacts social media can have on a person’s wellbeing. Since the first platform was created in 1997, people have struggled with the unrealistic beauty standards portrayed throughout the apps, use of social media with malicious intentions such as cyberbullying (which has seen 60% of parents with children aged 14-18 reporting incidents), general lack of socialisation and productivity and unreasonable expectations of how things in the world should be. Teenagers in particular are told many things about how they should dress, what they should look like and how they should act. The damaging images and comments social media supports are setting the future generation up for undeniable insecurity throughout their lives and the constant worry of not being good enough.
One specific example of the negative effects of social media is the role of “influencers” on the platforms. Many of us love to follow influencers, most often people we’ve never met, for inspiration on everything from personal style and home decor to parenting and community involvement. However, people can fall into the trap of forgetting the job of a social media influencer is mainly to advertise. Not everything is as perfect as they make it. This can be seen frequently in the makeup industry. Influencers can advertise foundation, for example, and tell their audience it gives an “airbrush effect” whilst also airbrushing themselves and delving into the intricacies of camera filters and editing, subsequently leaving the people buying the foundation left unsatisfied with themselves and their skin as it doesn’t look as it did on the influencer. This vicious cycle is shameful and should not be allowed to continue.
Although social media can sometimes be fun to use, a way to connect further with friends, form relationships, spread awareness on certain topics, it is important to remember the harm it can cause to us mentally. If we continue to compare ourselves to the people we see on social media, we will never be satisfied. We will never draw the line. And in a time where social media is heavily influential, take a step back into reality from time to time and remember that you are not and never have been defined by what you see.