We spend a lot of our time on our social media. According to the Common Sense Media Organization, teens spend on average nine hours everyday partaking in some sort of social media. Whether it is Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, or many of the popular sites of the day, teens, including myself, abuse this.
It is addicting. You get on and you see all the interesting things your friends are doing. And there is nothing more rewarding than when you share something and get a lot of likes. The feeling of approval is an untiring one.
In some cases, we do not even know some of the people you are “friends” with on social media. It is not uncommon for people to have a friend of a friend, or a person you saw one time when you left the football game, or maybe just a cute girl/guy you found browsing through the abundance of people on social media.
In some ways, this has made social media beneficial. It has allowed regular people to greatly expand their network of associates in a touch of a screen, without having to leave the comfort of home. In fact, you do not have to ever meet anyone you connect with in real life.
Part of that comfort is social media has allowed people to interact with others without the fear of rejection or embarrassment. But that is exactly the problem with social media.
A report from the Child Mind Institute claims social media has critically impacted communication skills in teens.
“…In a way, texting and online communicating—it’s not like it creates a nonverbal learning disability, but it puts everybody in a nonverbal disabled context, where body language, facial expression, and even the smallest kinds of vocal reactions are rendered invisible,” says clinical psychologist, Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair.
In addition to this, since social media is a form of low-risk interactions, teens become afraid of going up to people in real life. Sometimes even people that they befriended on social media.
And I can contest to this.
On Instagram, I have 497 followers. On average, I would say I physically talk to maybe 25 of those people. That is about 5 percent of my total followers.
Many of my followers go my school and yet I have never had a conversation with them, or shook their hand, said hi, or even glanced at them. Partly because I am scared to go up to them.
Unfortunately, social media is not something we can just stop using completely. But it is becoming an epidemic. Some might say it already is.
Social media introduced new forms of interaction with some partially good. Sharing photos, catching up, talking to family are all good things. But it has also introduced new forms of stalking and bullying in addition to impacting our social skills.
And the only way we can balance the good and ugly is to decrease our usage. From nine hours to eight, and from eight to seven. So instead checking your feed every minute and a half, go outside, take a walk. Maybe you will end up making a friend.