Likes to Life: Teenagers’ Social Media Craze

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As the cellphone have become more common and part of our daily lives, our kids and teenagers are also getting exposed to this new gadget. In the US, almost 95% of teens have access to cellphone and 84% of them own cellphones.

According a 2022 Pew Research survey, 95% of the teens use YouTube followed by TikTok and Instagram (below, left). “And today’s high schoolers grew accustomed to having — and needing — access to screens when they were learning at home during the pandemic”, the report found.

When asked about possibility of giving up social media, 54% of the teen said “it would be hard to give up social media” (below, right).

According to the survey, 97% of the US teen use internet daily. “Teen girls are more likely than teen boys to say they ever use TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat, while boys are more likely to use Twitch and Reddit. Boys also report using YouTube at higher rates than girls, although the vast majority of teens use this platform regardless of gender.”

Cellphones plays a bigger-than-ever part of schoolwork, they use 3% of their screen time on creative work, such as writing, making art or music. A report found that “girls also report liking social media much more than boys do. Seven in 10 teen girls use social media every day. Compared with other online activities, social media use is more associated with anxiety, depression, cyberbullying and self-image issues.”

Many Twin Cities schools are currently discussing whether students should have cellphones or not? According to Star Tribune, Florida Governor has signed a measure “restricting cellphones during instructional time. The changes will allow the devices to be used during class only if ‘expressly directed by a teacher solely for educational purposes‘.”

Roxanne Prichard, a psychology professor at the University of St. Thomas, told the Tribune “Phone notifications offer the same kind of rewards that make slot machines so addictive. Your brain is almost looking out for it. I almost compare it to having a newborn — we’re always listening for signs of distress.”

Social media craze

Many teenagers use cellphones to access social media, as a window to show off their personalities, express themselves and get validation from their friends. Each like, comment, and share serves as a measure of one’s self-worth and popularity. In this world, the virtual world becomes more real than the real one.

Behind the perfect photo and posts is the pressure to maintain a perfect image. The fear of not being noticed and the constant comparison to others can lead to stress, sadness, and a distorted view of their own identity.

It’s important for teenagers and their parents to understand the effects of excessive use of social media. Talking openly, setting limits, and balancing online and offline activities can aid in mitigating the adverse effects.

Most teenagers use social media to express themselves and connect with others. However, it’s important for them to realize that life is more than just a bunch of “like”, it’s about embracing real stuff, making real friends, and nurturing one’s authentic self.

“As adults, we owe it to our children to show them the way to their full potential. It’s a destination they can reach a little easier without the weight of their phones”, writes Laura Yuen on Star Tribune.