The impact of social media expectations on students’ lives

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The impact of social media expectations on students’ lives

This smartphone shows many of the apps teens around the country use daily.  Social media has both positive and negative affects on students.

This smartphone shows many of the apps teens around the country use daily. Social media has both positive and negative affects on students.

This smartphone shows many of the apps teens around the country use daily. Social media has both positive and negative affects on students.

This smartphone shows many of the apps teens around the country use daily. Social media has both positive and negative affects on students.

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In the United States, approximately 196 million people use social media every day and about 94 percent of teens go on the internet daily using their own mobile devices (Pew Research Center study found here).  Because of the wide range of uses that social media has, there are bound to be benefits and drawbacks of what seems to be students’ favorite use of time.

The modern era is not the first to use social networking to pass along messages.  Social media use can be dated back to 500 B.C.E. when the Assyrians developed the first postal services; similar to social media today, messages would be passed back and forth from cities within the empire.  

Unlike that first postal service which could take up to several weeks to deliver messages, teens can now type messages to their friends and get replies instantly through social media.

“I think it’s fun and it’s a good way to connect with your friends. I have friends in Romania and other places around the world and I talk to them and we just DM (direct message) all the time,” sophomore Andreea Alecse said.

Many students at Northwest use social media to connect to their friends and family. Over the years, social media use has been on the rise.

Many students at Northwest use social media to connect to their friends and family. Over the years, social media use has been on the rise.

“It’s (social media) a lot easier than just texting because you see their profile and their posts and with international numbers, it (texting) won’t work or you have to have a plan for that,” Alecse said.

As with anything, social media comes with benefits and drawbacks.

“Social media has good and bad aspects.  A lot of the time I don’t even see the bad aspects, which is great.  But I definitely think there are some negative aspects that we should try to get rid of,” Alecse said.

Of those negative aspects, self-image and the expectations that come with it impact the lives of students greatly.

“When you look at stuff, you want to be as pretty as the other person, as thin,” freshman Morgan Rumple said, “Some people end up being depressed and they want their body to look a certain way as some of the people on there (social media).”

She cites instances when posting on social media can have a negative effect on teens.

“Some people are pressured to post bad things online; it (pressure) will make them want to do it,” Rumple said, “Or they’ll want to look a certain way.”

Along with self-image expectations, other problems arise.  Many teens end up stretching the truth to gain followers on their social media platforms.  They are often encouraged by peer influence to exaggerate in postings of vacations or parties to improve their status within their class and boost popularity.

“They glorify it to some degree.  I’m pretty sure you weren’t just sitting out there in the sun looking perfect all by yourself.  You’ve obviously set up stuff,” Alecse said, “And I do that too, I think ‘I really need to look good in this picture, let’s set up the angle, and take 5000 pictures to get the right one.’”

Rumple agrees with Alecse about how teens use social media to post about vacations or holidays.  She also proposes reasons why teens may fabricate details about their vacations.

“They could just be doing that (exaggerating) to get likes,” Rumple said, “They just want to feel good about themselves.”

With social media around them constantly, many students struggle to find the balance between usage and spending their time elsewhere.

“I spend a lot of time on social media, and it’s easy to get lost,” Alecse said.

However, even with the temptation of social media, some students find a balance and have a solution to using social media too much.  This can help decrease the effect that social media and the expectations that come with it has on students.

“Set timers on social media use, I do that with my phone,” Rumple said, “Only be on social media for a certain time of day or week, and if you don’t want your parents seeing it, don’t post it.”

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