TOGETHER APART. As today move toward towards a more technological world, the increase usage of social media has become inevitable. (Evan Morris)
TOGETHER APART. As today move toward towards a more technological world, the increase usage of social media has become inevitable.

Evan Morris

Social media fosters social connection… or offers disconnect

December 10, 2022

Social media has a significant impact on students. Approximately 95% of teens use some form of social media, and, according to the 2022 annual report on Teen’s Social Media and Technology, “three-quarters of teens say they use YouTube at least daily.”

Freshman Shefali Meagher does not personally use social media often. She thinks it “can be a good communication tool, but if it is overused, it can be harmful; for example, it can take time away from social life, academics, sports, and other extracurricular activities,” she said.

Meagher believes the benefits of social media depend entirely on who you are and how you use it. She believes the lack of responsibility is brought on by how anonymous social media can be.

Senior Julia Colbert likes and uses social media but understands that the environment is often toxic.

Colbert uses social media to socialize and for entertainment.

She sees social media as something that adds value to daily life: “Social media being beneficial definitely depends on the person, but for me, definitely. I like to be able to connect with people.”

For example, Colbert was able to meet some people from summer camps that don’t live in Minnesota and used social media to stay in touch.

Often anonymity intensifies judgment and cyberbullying.

Social media may have gotten a bad reputation since, “You cannot control everything people do, so there are many harmful things that could be posted,” Meagher said.

She thinks increasing oversight and filters would not help with issues such as cyberbullying. “A lot of it is you just cannot control how kind or mean people will be. The only thing you can control is if you use it or not and what you use or do not use. So I think that is what we should focus on more.”

She added that students don’t use social media because of its quality, but instead for how individuals experience it: “I don’t really think social media depends on its reputation. I think you just need to know who you are as a person and whether it’s right for you,” Meagher said.

I don’t really think social media depends on its reputation. I think you just need to know who you are as a person and whether it’s right for you”

— Shefali Meagher

Colbert believes that social media’s bad reputation could stem from its unrealistic beauty standards. “You’re not seeing someone’s full effect,” Colbert said.

In a British Mental Health Foundation survey, 40% of teens said images on social media caused them to worry about their appearance.

Meagher agrees, “Everybody is different, and comparing yourself to others can lead to dissatisfaction with your own body, which is unhealthy,” she said.

Social media is also used as a breeding ground for false information.

“Obviously, it is going to reach a much larger audience since it’s so easy to access,” Colbert said.

The majority of the time it’s not wise to consult famous TikTokers and YouTubers for news. Nevertheless; the majority of young people do.

According to a report published in Forbes, “With new research from Ofcom that found many teenagers are turning away from traditional media outlets, and instead are now getting most of their news from social media.”

Although some certainly use social media more than others, social accounts give students a sense of identity, a way to express themselves, and a place to be in community, whether outside of school or anywhere else in the world.

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