Dictator of Teens: Social Media

Kyle Varellie, Contributing Writer

It’s 7 a.m. You wake up, then you check your phone. It’s 10 a.m. You’re bored in class, then you check your phone. It’s 12 p.m. You finish lunch, ignore your friends sitting at your lunch table, then you check your phone. It’s 5 p.m. You get tired of doing your homework, so you check your phone. The daily routine of a teenager begs the question: are teens’ phones controlling their lives?

Cell phone companies preach the concept of connection through social media, yet teens seem more disconnected than ever. They are disconnected from reality and instead live through social media. According to a study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 22% of teens log on to their favorite social media site at least ten times a day. These buzzing boxes have almost unlimited power, but when does the power become restricting?

Social media’s restrictive power is at the core of cyberbullying. The National Conference of State Legislators defines cyberbullying as “the willful and repeated use of cell phones, computers, and other electronic communication devices to harass and threaten others.” The constant harassment leads to psychological and emotional problems for victims of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is linked to higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide in teen victims. Though schools are taking preventative measures to limit cyberbullying, the problem persists.

Problems with teens and social media go beyond cyberbullying, and new psychological research has identified a condition called Facebook depression. Dr. Romeo Vitelli of Psychology Today describes Facebook depression as “depression that develops when teens or pre-teens spend a great deal of time on social media.” Psychologists have questioned the root of the new phenomenon. Psychologist Charlotee Belease at the University of Leeds theorized that the more popular accounts one follows, the more likely they are to have a lower opinion of themselves. She implies that this is evolution at work, but survival of the highest status rather than survival of the fittest. That is a driving force behind Facebook envy, which in many cases morphs into Facebook depression.

Some of social media’s less evident effects are on the time management of teens. Social media can be a time consuming habit. According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, 92% of United States teens go online daily. Morris Hills senior Kristen Cefaloni admits, “I waste a lot of time on social media.”

The classic teenage cliche of teens blaming their parents for dictating their lives is now false. Today’s dictator doesn’t have a face, unless it’s attached to a book. The new dictator of teens doesn’t make a sound, but it does make a tweet. The new dictator of teens is social media.