Social media overuse distracts students from their real lives
February 7, 2017
Filed under Opinions
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Social media may be fun for a bored student who needs an activity to occupy their time. However, when used in excess, seemingly harmless social media apps can become detrimental to the productivity and health of high school students.
“It is a frequent distraction when doing homework due to the constant urge to check it,” sophomore Isabella Swigart said. “People don’t want to feel left out.”
A Carnegie Mellon study found that people who were distracted by technology scored 20 percent lower on a standard cognition test than people who were not distracted.
Social media’s distracting capabilities are further reflected in a survey of 100 McLean students, in which 82 said that social media distracts them from school work and other responsibilities.
Social networks also prevent students from engaging in more meaningful real life social interactions.
“If you’re spending a lot of time connecting with people online, you’re not spending as much quality time with your family members [and friends] in the real 3D world,” McLean High School psychologist Beth Werfel said.
McLean students have experienced the shift from three- to two-dimensional communication, as students stare at their phones almost constantly, even when spending time with friends.
“When it comes to people’s social lives, I do think that if you were having a really good time you wouldn’t be focused on capturing every moment on your Snapchat story,” junior Laith Samamreh said. “I would assume you would be in the moment enjoying it.”
Additionally, Werfel warned that overuse of social media can change the way students interact with others.
“People will start making less eye contact because it’s really personal when you [make contact] eye-to-eye or face-to-face with someone,” Werfel said. “The more programmed we are to interact through our phones the more uncomfortable we could become interacting face-to-face.”
Serious mental health problems can stem from the constant use of social media.
“Anxiety can come from overuse, just trying to keep up with all the social media and trying to compete with the fun activities that you see others doing on social media,” Werfel said.
Overuse of social media can also result in depression. Students may struggle with feelings of inadequacy as they constantly see what their peers are up to through their posts.
“If you’re seeing a lot of people posting all of the happy and exciting things going on in their lives, it can give you a false sense that everyone else’s life is better than yours,” Werfel said.
People who use social media feel less confident because they are always comparing themselves to their friends. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “Facebook depression.” Werfel urges students to have a proper mindset when using social media.
“Keep social media in perspective. People are posting the good things in their lives— they’re not posting the day to day realities of how difficult life can be,” Werfel said.
Although there are many benefits to students having easy access to social media, such as being able to connect with long distance friends and staying updated on current events, it can also lead to the deterioration of students’ self-esteem and academic focus.
Students should be mindful of these issues and direct their focus to what truly matters to them, which often entails cutting back on social media.