How Social Media Affects High School Students


Grace Atherton, Writer

Social media and phone usage is a huge aspect of teens lives, if not the main. Hours are spent texting friends, posting pictures on Instagram, and scrolling endlessly through Pinterest. These things consume more of our lives than we think. 

Through a poll sent out last week answered by 145 students, we found that the average amount of time spent on social media per day is 3-5 hours. Some were as low as 1 hour, as others state they can spend up to 10 hours on social media. There are many negative effects that come along with the time spent on these platforms.

Social media, when obsessively used, can affect your mental state and self-image. From the poll we learned that the most common impact that social media has on high school students is bringing down their self image. By getting on your phone and scrolling for hours through pictures of other people highlighting their own lives, you start comparing all of yourself to their most presentable moments. It’s very easy to do, but you have to remember: Instagram is a highlight reel. No one shares the hard parts of life on social media, even though we all go through them.

Not only does social media trigger comparison when it comes to physical appearance but also causes feelings of loneliness and isolation. Dr. Emanuel from The Child Mind Institutes says, “Kids view social media through the lens of their own lives… If they’re struggling to stay on top of things or suffering from low self-esteem, they’re more likely to interpret images of peers having fun as confirmation that they’re doing badly compared to their friends.” 

Social Media has so many negative effects on us and our mental health, so why are we so addicted? Why can’t we go a day without refreshing our Instagram feed or Snapchatting our friends? 

On The Social Dilemma, a new documentary found on Netflix, creators of social media platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook give us insight on how they are designed. One of the biggest takeaways you can get from watching this documentary is that these apps we find ourselves so addicted to are designed precisely to keep us coming back, making us always want more by designing our feeds with content specifically chosen for us according to our interests. 

Being addicted to our phones and social media can really take away from our everyday lives. We asked the student body whether or not they have deleted social media apps before, and how it had impacted them.

“I have deleted all of my social media accounts, and they are currently all still inactive,” senior Molly Hobbs says. “This has allowed me to take a step back and refocus on the reality of life and just gives me a sense of freedom.” 

Joliene Thompson, a junior at Central Hardin, says “I went three months without social media. I did this because I knew how badly it was affecting me and I knew I needed a break. I found that I was happier, more positive, more outgoing, etc. I found that I was actually myself for those months, and I still take a week out of each month without social media. I highly recommend it.”

Students who have deleted social media accounts say that they feel better afterwards and don’t regret the decision. However, others state that social media is the only way they find themselves being able to connect with family and friends. Especially while social distancing, social media is one of the only ways we can interact with each other. A lot of students who didn’t delete social media, but still recognize the negative impact it may have on them, say they choose to only follow accounts that bring them positivity and unfollow the accounts that negatively affect them and their mental health. 

Not everything about social media is bad, though. More students, when asked if social media affects them negatively or positively, say that social media affects them positively. As they can pursue their hobbies, talk to friends, meet new people who have similar interests as them, or watch entertaining videos. 

How do you find social media affecting your life? Should you take a step back and breathe for a while, or do these apps motivate you and bring you joy? Let’s become aware of what we’re filling our minds with and putting our energy towards.