Social media addiction is a term being thrown around quite a bit these days, and although an actual social media addiction is very rare, the negative effects of overuse is something students might see in their everyday lives. Not all social media usage is unhealthy, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that someone doesn’t have to be an addict to experience the negative effects of even just habitual use. For instance, using social media while driving, at the movies, or hanging out with friends, could damage your personal relationships or even put you in danger.
Not that social media is all bad. It’s difficult to condemn it in its entirety because social media is meant to help connections with people. This sense of connection does have positive effects, stronger relationships with distant relatives or friends. However, if a relationship is only supported though digital interactions, it does bring a new set of problems. While in-person connections might seem difficult to maintain, digital relationships may end up taking even more time because they ingrain a fear that motivates people to spend excess time on their devices. Fear of missing out or FoMO, according to “Psychology Today,” is what causes people to overuse their phones. This comes from the need to be connected to what people are doing and the consequent fear of missing out on something big. This fear is a part of human’s basic desire to be accepted. This can cause distraction, increased social media use, and lower life and mood satisfaction.
FoMO is scary because it causes the almost inseparable attachment that a lot of people in the school community have to their phones. Even just driving out of the school parking lot, one can see an average of two to three people on their phones while they drive. There have been snapchats taken while people are driving, and it is terrifying. Although the voice of reason is often unpopular, I’ve got to say it: it’s just not safe. There have been enough bad accidents to know it’s just not worth it. Even still, it’s hard not to reach for your phone when you hear it buzz.
Teachers have complained about the decay of actual interpersonal interactions between students. It does seem a little unsettling when one walks into the cafeteria only to see tables of students sucked into their phones not talking. It seems a little ironic at first, like wouldn’t teachers welcome the quiet? It brings a new problem: how can teachers compete with a phone for a student’s attention? Despite changing the classroom dynamic, there are some positives to adding phones to the classroom; however, it is difficult to find one provided by social media.
The prevalence of habitual social media use has made teenagers who don’t use it habitually the minority. It has brought a choice for the modern teenager, be disconnected from the digital world, or disconnected from the real world. Both have their own challenges.
In conclusion, students do not have to be technically classified as addicts to see the negative effects of habitual social media use. Besides the positive of being connected to friends, social media presents many challenges like excess screen time and an inability to disconnect. As the new year passes and people institute changes in their life to benefit their health, perhaps a new popular resolution is to disconnect from social media.