Cut your screen time

Studies show social media can influence mental health

Abigail Benson Langshaw, reporter, photographer

Social media addiction has been a consistent problem for people of all generations over the past 20 years, but no age group is more heavily reliant on the internet than Generation Z. With issues like lack of sleep, low self-esteem, and unrealistic expectations, we will continue to see more and more reasons to actively limit the amount of time we put into social media.

According to a study done by BMJ Open, about 31% of teenagers spend one to three hours using social media per day, and about 20% spend more than five. The time spent using social media cuts into time that would otherwise be used to sleep, study, and engage in self-care. This type of behavior is extremely unhealthy, and causes student grade averages to plummet, along with mental health.

Speaking of that, Generation Z is the generation least likely to report having good mental health (According to this study). Of course, there are many other factors involved with that statistic, including school shootings, climate change worries, and sexual assault/harassment. However, as a member of Generation Z myself, I honestly believe that a lot of mental health issues for us are caused by the unrealistic standards for life that are glamorized online, and comparing one’s own life to the “ideal” one they see online. This creates low self-esteem for teens and furthers their stress levels by forcing them to be more self-conscious about their outward appearance and social media presence. “I don’t post anything anymore really, because it gives me too much anxiety,” said Elizabeth Oksanen, 11.

As much as I hate hearing adults berate us for being addicted to our phones, they aren’t wrong when they suggest taking breaks. I recommend that all of us try to limit the amount of time we spend online. Maybe try picking up a skill or a hobby, or go out somewhere new with a friend, instead of wasting away in your bedroom.

We’re already a month into 2020, but if you think you’ve missed the opportunity to start anew, you’re dead wrong. Try to make reasonable social media use a part of your everyday life. I’m not telling you to give it up completely, but the next time you’re scrolling endlessly on TikTok or Twitter, maybe stop to consider what you could be doing instead.