School News - Katie Patrick

Has social media taken a toll on students' mental health?

          Over the past decade, the percentage of teens that experiences mental health disorders has increasingly risen. As social media is constantly evolving and has lots of positive benefits that make life entertaining, it is unavoidable to become somewhat obsessive over it. Social media is everyone's platform to try to show their “perfect life,” and this can be overwhelming for teens with anxiety and depression. Although these thoughts are usually kept to oneself, a lot of teens experience pressure over social media, even here in our own community. 

          According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, roughly 95% of teens use a smartphone, and the most popular apps that teens become obsessed over are Instagram and Snapchat. These apps overall provide amusement, however research shows that teens who are addicted to these apps and already suffer from mental health problems can experience mental health disorders like hyperactivity disorder, impulsive disorder and loneliness. Students here in the SSSAS community say they suffer every day from anxiety. When asking a junior student, “where does your anxiety comes from,” the student immediately answered “everything. School work and social stuff all wrapped in one, but that's just me.” 

           According to Mrs. Harrison, our school counselor, she has noticed introverted students whose personalities are not to be all over social media feel pressure to have some kind of presence because it is what everyone else is doing. She went on to say that students have lots of “what ifs” about what they are putting on social media, questioning whether they should delete posts, comments, and generally are worried about judgement. 

          One junior student explains how they edit their instagram pictures so much just to feel good about what they post, then they start to freak out about how much editing has been done and they start to have a panic attack. This student says that “I feel like there’s so much pressure to look absolutely flawless in every single post, making me overthink my posts way too much and it's become a serious problem that I don't know how to fix.” This student says that it feels like it’s a job every time they feel like they have to post a picture. It takes up so much time and stress that it just makes them feel overall miserable. 

          Alternatively, an outgoing junior student who would get stressed out when they weren’t able to check their social media every five minutes goes on to say “I realized that social media was making me so anxious that I started to fall behind on my school work and I started to fall into a depression. My therapist advised me to have my mom take my phone during homework time, which was very very hard at first but slowly I started performing well in school again and became just more..happy.” This student constantly watches his screen time seeing how much they use in a week. Though he says it is hard it has helped him come into a better mental state finding a happy medium with social media.

          Personally, I have had Instagram and Snapchat since I was in 4th grade, which thinking about that now seems very young! I think since I started using social media at such a young age I became addicted to it in middle school. In middle school I had tons of anxiety, and I struggled a lot, which I feel my obsession with Snapchat and Instagram did not help. Now I enjoy social media a lot, but it does prevent me from focusing on my priorities, at times. I try to put my phone away when I am trying to focus on something or need to get a task done, which is very hard but I know will help me in the long run. 

"Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness," says ADAA member Melissa Hunt, PhD in a 2018 article. 

          If you believe yourself or a friend is experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, please know that it isn’t something that can be overcome easily. It isn’t a weakness, and you aren’t alone; moreover, it shouldn’t keep you from seeking treatment such as counseling. Share your concerns with a parent, a close friend, a relative, or someone else you trust.

Reach out to our Upper School counselor: sharrison@sssas.org