Social Media Usage for Teens

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People of all ages around the world constantly use technology. Whether it’s for work, entertainment, or communication, there always seems to be a screen in front of their face. According to American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACP), 90% of teens use social media and over half use it daily. Since the first social media apps were released, the internet has thrived with its amount of users, especially teenagers and adults.

Today, the top three most popular apps used by teenagers are Instagram with 1 billion users, Snapchat with 46 million, and TikTok with 1 billion. Instagram and Snapchat have both been published for almost a decade, while TikTok has been climbing its way up the charts since 2016. 75% of teens have at least one active account on a social media platform (AACP).

Snapchat is an app used on a daily basis to communicate with friends and stay updated on peoples’ lives. It is a source of entertainment and communication that can be easily accessible for those who do not have a person’s cell phone number.

“I like snapchat because I like to talk to people,” said Allie O’Neill, a freshman from Middletown Odessa Townsend (MOT) Charter.

Instagram is used to upload pictures and videos for your followers to see, like, comment, etc. Instagram photos and videos are either from the people you follow, or a feed based off of what you have liked in the past.

TikTok is used for the endless scroll of creative videos that also have the ability to be liked, commented on, and shared. It is known for its capability to distract some people, but overall is a fun app that is used by all ages.

A person’s lifestyle, opinions, work ethic, and confidence are some of many things that can be changed by these apps. Teenager’s brains aren’t done developing until the age 25, so the use of social media can definitely alter the way they grow up.

Social media has become an important tool for teenagers because it is an easy way to stay connected with friends and the rest of the world. Meeting new people is more common than it was before you could see strangers online. Social media also allows them to stay updated with current events around the world.

Julianna Kennedy said she uses social media because, “You know what’s currently happening. You’re updated and it is easy to communicate.”

Although having connections is a good thing, social media can have a negative side as well. Social media is known to have “influencers” who are able to make money from the things they post. They show off their successful life, society’s beauty standard, and other things that can make teens unhappy with their own lives. This can interfere with teenagers’ ability to think independently and be themselves without following a certain trend.

Social media is also a source of cyberbullying, hacking, invasion of privacy, and interference with everyday activities.

“It is great to stay connected especially during COVID-19,” Guidance counselor, Tiffany Reams, said, “However, I do think that it really affects self esteem and it is also extremely distracting.”

This year with quarantine, people needed to rely on technology to be able to continue their education and work. The adaptation to the coronavirus has been hard and the dependency to phones and social media for teens has risen. On average, teenagers spend close to 9 hours a day online.

“I had no motivation to do something afterwards [spending time on media apps]. It is much more fun than homework, and I would much rather be doing that.” said O’Neill.

Although adults did not grow up with social media, there are many apps that are used by adults just as much as teenagers. Facebook, for example, is a very popular app used by adults to stay connected with their friends.

Adults can be less likely to become addicted to social media apps because of their greater responsibilities. The more the media industry grows, the more dependent the further generations will be on technology.

“As an adult, you don’t really have as many opportunities to be distracted by it,” Reams said. “Kids are seeing so much of everything on their phones because you do all your school work on computers. I think it is a bit more addicting.”

“I think it’s constant,” Reams said. “I feel like everytime I look up I see kids on their phone. It is way too much.”