The Record

Like me: the effects of social media on mental health

Amelia Feiner

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The lives of most 21st century students revolve around technology in school, at home, and everywhere in between. Technology is helpful in many situations, but it also presents a potentially harmful pressures. As many aspects of students’ lives now live on social media, students who use popular apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat often feel obligated to appear “perfect.” Additionally, some feel jealous, excluded, or even anxious when viewing others’ social lives.
Checking Snapchat stories and scrolling through Instagram feeds became a habit for Gibby Thomas (11), so she can see what her friends are doing, she said.
Although it is interesting to see what activities others are doing, it is easy to feel excluded, Andrew Cassino (10) said.
“Especially since I don’t live in the city, it isn’t as easy for me to get out and hang out with friends,” Cassino said. “Some of my friends find it necessary to put their every move on social media.”
Counseling and Guidance psychologist Dr. Ian Pervil believes that while social media makes students more acutely aware of being excluded, it does not change the feelings that they have when they deal with exclusion.
In an anonymous Record poll through Google Forms that included a sample of 331 Upper Division students, 86.4% of the participants expressed they were either indifferent or negatively impacted when they saw their friends excluding them.
“They’re just the latest incarnation of the same problems that we face in our day to day world,” Pervil said.
According to Freya Lindvall (12), who is conducting her independent study on social media’s effects on students’ mental health, seeing wealthier students post about their luxurious lives negatively affects students who are of lower socioeconomic status, especially at this school.
Wealthier students may come to a better understanding of their privilege after seeing posts of their friends who are of lower socioeconomic status than themselves, she said.
Whereas passively scrolling through social media may be harmful, actively posting has ramifications as well. Other aspects of social media websites make them even more addictive, as the amount of “likes,” views, “friends,” and “followers” makes these platforms seem like a contest of capturing the attention, approval, and admiration of their peers, James Chang (12) said.
“There is a need to compare your own account to others,” Cassino said. People are often afraid of judgment if they have a less than perfect post, he said.
McCarthy feels alarmed by the amount of time she spends filtering photos to make her life seem more aesthetically pleasing, scrolling through posts of people she has never talked to, and looking through photos to make sure she uses the one where her legs look the skinniest, she said.
Lindvall believes that social media is a method to disguise one’s problems by taking pictures of a split second in time when their lives appear happy, Lindvall said.
“I don’t think that is always such a bad thing,” Pervil said. Social media is simply an extension of people’s desire to present their best selves, he said.
Escape from social media is difficult, as it is inextricably intertwined with everything people do in the technological age, Lindvall said.

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Like me: the effects of social media on mental health