As teenagers, creating and maintaining relationships with our peers is high on our priority list. Naturally, humankind has evolved towards a reliance on technology to the point where social media has become the primary method of communication and connection for most of us teens. Although social media has its benefits, the negative effects of social media on one’s mental health can be quite damaging.
Posting on social media is easy – it only takes a few minutes, maximum. Because of the convenience of posting, feeds are often flooded with content from not only the people you follow, but from accounts that you don’t follow – like the reels from well-known public accounts that Instagram constantly recommends that you watch. Videos like these are often quite entertaining and tailor to your interests; examples include makeup tutorials, baking tips, highlights from your favorite sport, cat videos, and countless other types. Watching these videos makes you feel happy and you keep scrolling because, wow, it’s like Instagram can read your mind and give you the perfect content! But this endless loop of scrolling is extremely addictive and keeps your eyes glued to the phone screen for far too long.
The blue light from your phone can not only lead to digital eye strain, but is also harmful to your sleep schedule. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Exposure to blue light can affect your internal body clock and throw off your circadian rhythm”, which is your body’s natural, 24-hour process that regulates your sleep-wake schedule. Without a proper circadian rhythm, your body will not get the proper recovery during the night that is so crucial for fueling your activities during the day. As high school students, we have strict schedules full of day-to-day activities: classes, sports, after-school clubs, homework, and hanging out with friends takes a lot of energy! It’s hard to get through all of these activities to the best of your ability if you don’t get enough sleep.
Spending too much time on social media not only forgoes your sleep quality, it also limits productivity. How can your mind be focused when you are busy constantly checking your messages, liking your classmates’ posts, or replying to someone’s story? According to Lancaster Health, “Constantly checking [your phone] can have a detrimental effect on schoolwork and studying. The distraction can lead to procrastination, less retention of information, and higher levels of stress.” But school work isn’t the only part of the picture. Social media can cause distractions in driving, working, and spending time with family and friends (real, in-person interactions, not over a phone screen!). With these responsibilities, the consequence isn’t just a drop in your grades – it could be a matter of being fired for not focusing in the workplace or losing strong connections with the people you are closest to. In the case of driving, putting down your phone could save your own and others’ lives.
It is perfectly fine to use your phone; after all, they are meant to be used for your own convenience! Texting and commenting on friends’ posts doesn’t hurt when it’s done in moderation. But it’s important that you are careful not to be caught in an endless loop of checking your phone when it is not necessary! Overusing your phone has detrimental effects on your health and is a huge distraction when you do your daily activities.
Putting down your phone isn’t easy – I know this from firsthand experience. Lucky for you, I made a list of tips on how to limit your screen time! Read here.
“Computer Vision Syndrome (Digital Eye Strain).” AOA.org, https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y.
hollowc2. “3 Reasons to Ditch Your Phone before Bed.” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 20 May 2022, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/put-the-phone-away-3-reasons-why-looking-at-it-before-bed-is-a-bad-habit/.