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Opinion: Social Media Use Can Cause Depression Among Teens

Ethan Kuo, Contributor

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Are we doing more damage than good by using social media?

We create stylish but enigmatic screen names for our various social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, or what have you. These sites have become vital parts of our day as a means to “connect” with other people.

It sounds great on the surface, but that’s the problem. For many of us, social media is all about what’s on the surface and rarely comes close to the truth. It’s all about what’s “Gram worthy,” to use the parlance of the day. Call me old-fashioned, but, in the long run, social media will prove detrimental to the self-esteem of many.

We are the guinea pigs of social media and academia is taking notice. In study after study, the results reflect a troubling trend among heavy users of social media: it’s simply not good for our self-esteem.

In a 2013 study, a group of researchers at the University of Michigan concluded that rather than enhancing well-being, interacting with social media may predict opposite results for young adults. It may hurt their self-esteem.

These analyses indicated that Facebook use predicts declines in the two components of subjective well-being: how people feel moment to moment, and how satisfied they are with their lives,” the study said.

Another study (indeed, many have) concluded the same thing.

Published in November of this year, a study by the Association of Psychological Science found very disturbing correlations between the increase of social media screen time by adolescents and a rising increase of depression among them. The study traced these trends from 2010 to 2015.

A quick Google search on media and self-esteem will result in dozens of articles and studies listing the connection between falling self-esteem and social media use.

Students in San Marino High School agreed with findings of the reports.

“I do think that social media sometimes causes teenagers to feel down and depressed,” said sophomore Danae Chow, echoing some of the findings in various studies that social media can create feelings of exclusion. “When they see their friends hanging out on SnapChat or something, and they’re not invited, they feel like they are not part of a group.”

At times, it has “created doubt in me,” Chow added. “Like, I’m not wanted or part of the group.”

It’s not just feelings of exclusion social media use can create, it also creates anxiety because you might not be getting as many “likes” as others, explained sophomore Ashley Wang.

“Even your own posts [can cause one to feel down],” Wang said. “You get likes in social media. And that’s the thing about the number of likes when you compare to others. You think you are not as popular and as liked as others.”

So if students understand that social media can create feelings that make us feel bad, why not just put the smartphone or tablet down? It’s a lot tougher than it sounds.

“People tend to be super curious of other’s lives, which causes social media to be very addictive,” Chow said.

“This makes it hard to do something else,” Wang said. “It’s like you’re trapped in a birdcage. Even if you try really hard, it’s like a being kid in a candy store, you want it so badly.”

Parents should pay attention because both girls agreed that their mother or father are often the only influence strong enough to get them to limit their screen time.  

“If my mom feels I’m spending too much time on my phone, she takes it away,”  Wang said. “She has me keep my phone outside my room.”

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Opinion: Social Media Use Can Cause Depression Among Teens