In today’s society, it is rare to see anyone without a smart phone. About 77 percent of the United States population own smartphones.
A study conducted by Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, found that between 2012 and 2015, there was a spike in depression and suicide rates among teenagers ages 13 through 18. The study suggests the link between elevated depression and suicide rates and young people is the constant use of smartphones.
Social media is easily accessible on smartphones via apps. Ninety-one percent of people between 16-years-old and 24-years-old use the internet for social media. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are all in the palm of our hands each day. These apps have the ability to connect people without any geographical boundaries, making us feel like we can access anyone at any time by looking their social media account.
While conducting research for her newest book, Twenge found that with the surplus of technological interconnectivity, there has been a lack of human contact in the millennial generation and generation Z.
Human communication and connection is what people thrive on. Without these relationships, people begin to feel socially isolated. Social media has been found to add to this isolation.
While we can text someone all day long, there is a lack of humanization. When texting, tone of voice can get lost in translation.
In a study conducted by Royal Society for Public Health, it was found that the use of social media has increased anxiety and depression rates in young people. Seeing their friends constantly having fun via social media can make young people question their own life occurrences.
There is a sense of unrealistic expectations that is built up by social media, creating a feeling of self-consciousness and low self-esteem.
I think social media gives us the ability to put up a front. We chose the photos that get posted on our Instagram accounts and we choose the thoughts that get sent out to all of our followers on Twitter. We are capable of picking and choosing what content we want people to know about us in a public view.
On an average Instagram account, you see the highlights of someone’s life, selfies, pictures from the beach— overall fun activities. What you don’t see is what is really happening in a person’s daily life.
As someone with an account on every social media platform under the sun, I understand the evidence behind these studies. I put my best foot forward on social media. I don’t post personal information or personal struggles for the world to see.
Some people put it all out there and that’s okay. I love using social media to see what people are up to, but social media has the ability to make me question my own social media interactions.
“Do I post too much? Am I annoying to my followers? Will people like this picture I post? I wonder why this picture didn’t get as many likes as I thought?”
These are just a few of the questions I asked myself before posting an Instagram picture last week. But why? We are not defined by the amount of likes on our Instagram pictures or our follower count on twitter, but it’s the sense of wanting people we have a technological relationship with to know that we’re having fun.
My best advice to you, from the perspective of a millennial and social media fanatic, just put down the phone— just for a little while. Clear your mind of what everyone else is doing and focus on you, because you deserve all of your attention.