Social media promotes severe anti-social habits

Abby Klubeck, Staff Writer

As Kalyn Le (9) sits down at her desk, preparing to start her homework, she can’t help but repeatedly reach for her phone, checking her Instagram, then her TikTok, then her Snapchat. 

Le began using social media in third grade with the app, and joined Instagram when she was in sixth grade. Over time, Le developed the habit of using her social media apps such as TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat first thing in the morning as well as the last thing at night. 

“I adore [social media], and I have fun on it, but if I were just to sit down and really think about it, it’s sad that I can’t do anything without it,” Le said. “I can’t even do my homework for a good hour straight without being like, ‘Hey, let’s go look at what so-and-so is doing on Instagram.’”

As a part of her reliance on social media, Le developed negative habits, specifically regarding her self-esteem. While already struggling to discover her own identity—as many high school freshmen are—Le is constantly comparing herself to the pretty and popular people she sees while scrolling through her social media feeds.

“I want to be my own person, and I do appreciate myself at times,” Le said. “But then I’ll open social media and I see all of these other people, and I’m like ‘oh, maybe I don’t look as good as I thought.

The self doubt and constant comparisons on social media was difficult for Le and many other teens who struggle with self-development,  discovery and confidence. 

Alana Jenks (11) has been on social media since the fifth grade. She agrees that her usage of social media has caused her to compare herself to the people she sees on social media, perceiving herself differently.

“I think that a lot of teen girls on social media compare themselves to others, which has gotten really toxic,” Jenks said.  

Le said that social media has also affected how she spends time with her friends. Rather than interacting with each other, she and her friends spend more time on social media than talking face-to-face when together. 

“Now, I’ll be hanging out with my friends and half of the time I’ll be on TikTok, or like be on Facetime silent because we’re all on TikTok or Instagram or something,” Le said. “It sucks how we have the need to express ourselves online instead of expressing it just by walking around, or with the people you’re close with. We just have the need to share it with others.” 

Psychotherapist Erica Kardonsky said social media takes a toll on teens’ mental health and behavior. 

Social media can be highly addictive and hard for people to use in moderation,” Kardonsky said. “With filters and photo editing, it often portrays impossible beauty standards that can lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders and low self-esteem. People typically share their best moments on social media and it’s hard for people not to get caught up in comparing themselves or wishing their life were more like what they see on social media. And while it’s great that social media has created a larger platform for mental health issues to be discussed, it is concerning that so many individuals are diagnosing themselves with mental health disorders based on videos they see on TikTok.”

Kardonsky talks about how social media can influence what we perceive.

“There is a ton of misinformation out there, or opinions stated as facts, which can be hard for people to determine what to believe.” Kardonsky said.

Although for people to feel connected when they can’t see one another, social media can be detrimental to our mental and physical health. 

“Depending who you follow, there is a wealth of positive messages and helpful information that can actually help people feel less alone and improve mood and self-esteem,” Kardonsky said. “Unfortunately, most people don’t follow solely positive accounts. I have seen a rise in anxiety, depression, eating disorders and low self-esteem with increased use of social media. I’ve also seen an increase in people diagnosing themselves with mental health disorders, particularly ADHD or personality disorders.” 

To improve from these effects from social media, Kardonsky recommends reasonable time limits each day to how much you are on social media and slowly lower it. 

“If you’re usually on social media 4 hours a day, try to start cutting back to 3 hours, then 2, then 1. Once the time limit you’ve set for the day is up, use it to connect with people in real life, do something you used to love to do (sports, art, crocheting, reading, etc), or spend time outside.” Kardonsky said.