It is hard to disagree that most modern teenagers and young adults perceive social media networks as a major part of their everyday lives. This is already a special ritual to check our mobile phones right after waking up in the morning and scroll through Tik Tok or Instagram every free minute. Every time something starts to happen, most teenagers turn on the camera on their phones to upload the video to social networks and earn peer recognition. To be honest, I do not know if this is an alarming sign or just a distinctive feature of current generations. However, if this behavior continues to be a trend, it is vital to make sure that the youth is aware of the relationships between social media, self-recognition and responsibility, and self-esteem.
My Use of Social Media
Even though I have different hobbies and several friends, love being outside, and have to study, I still spend too much time on social media. Sometimes I find myself scrolling through Instagram or other networks without even paying attention to the content and then realize that I am doing it to relax or cope with stress. Overall, according to my phone, my average screen time spent on social media reaches five hours a day. This is too much for me, and one of my goals for this summer is to limit this time and become less dependent on social networks.
Social Platforms and Self-Esteem
Most parents and researchers are concerned about the negative influences of social platforms on self-esteem, and I support them in this idea. Despite the fact that a major part of photos and videos that people post to their accounts are edited, and social media is mostly fake, it is challenging not to feel stressed when seeing them. For example, on Instagram, there are numerous pictures of people with a beautiful and toned figure, smooth skin, in expensive clothes, or on vacation. Sometimes it is difficult for me not to blame myself for not having it too and then feel unworthy of it all. Additionally, according to Jan, Soomro, and Ahmad (2017), “increase in social media usage causes the self-esteem of individuals to decrease,” and “one hour spent on Facebook daily results in a 5.574 decrease in the self-esteem score of an individual” (p. 329). Therefore, it is not recommended to allow children and teenagers to use their social media accounts daily.
One of the primary reasons for such a strong influence and use of social networks is the freedom of expression that they provide. Nevertheless, researchers believe that most people do not portray themselves the same way online as they do in real life, which results in them having multiple identities (Gündüz, 2017). Indeed, social networks allow their users to create different accounts, and very few of them have verification procedures.
Therefore, one can be whoever they want without being recognized by colleagues or classmates (Gündüz, 2017). Additionally, there is a disturbing trend among teenagers, especially girls and women, that makes them perceive themselves differently in real life. According to Ryan-Mosley (2021), after frequent use of beauty filters, networks users begin to perceive the real self and the online version of themselves as two different people, preferring the latter. Therefore, there is an adverse impact of social media not only on self-esteem but also on identity and the way we portray ourselves.
Responsible Use of Social Networks
Finally, to make the internet safer and more accepting and welcoming, it is vital to follow some rules and act responsibly. Chuck (2018) lists several tips that may help social media users be protected and also protect others from negative experiences. For instance, it is recommended to “obtain permissions when posting videos or images of others on your networks,” even if they are one’s friends or relatives (Chuck, 2018, para. 5). Another crucial rule is to think twice or thrice before posting anything, be it a picture or just some thoughts (Chuck, 2018). Otherwise, it may have adverse consequences even after several years.
Chuck, E. (2018). Tips for responsible social media use. Web.
Gündüz, U. (2017). The effect of social media on identity construction. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 8(5), 85.
Jan, M., Soomro, S., & Ahmad, N. (2017). Impact of social media on self-esteem. European Scientific Journal, 13(23), 329-341.
Ryan-Mosley, T. (2021). Beauty filters are changing the way young girls see themselves. Web.