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Original photo: Newkemall/Flickr
Original photo: Newkemall/Flickr

Opinion: Excessive social media use can permanently damage teenagers

Apr 29, 2019

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By Grace Ingebretson

I don't know if us millennials are aware of it, but have you ever thought of how much your smartphone controls you and maybe even your emotions? Social media and screen time take a substantial amount of time away from your day.

Ever wonder what all those hours on your phone translate to what is happening in your brain? Social media use by teenagers is an epidemic that seems to be out of control.

Social media is so intertwined in everyday life that leaving Facebook and Twitter would be like trying to stop driving in protest against oil companies or giving up electricity as a way to object to the environmental policies of Con Edison.

When engaged in social media, it is all about finding a balance. It seems though, for people my age, it is extremely hard to commit to taking a break from our phones and finding any sense of balance. It’s like a drug that we have to keep taking our phones out of our pockets to see what we are missing.

I think there is a correlation between constantly being engaged in our smartphone and mental health. It seems when your attention is focused on your smartphone and not what is happening around you can pull you into a false sense of reality. Often times I turn my attention towards my smartphone so much that it makes me guilty to think about it.

I think these young adult years are extremely important for our brain development. If we find ourselves mesmerized on social media we aren't going to evolve as healthy individuals who find the moment a wonderful gift. Especially when interacting with the world around us.

If most teens are used to texting, how will that build their social skills in relation to others? If they are just used to all of their conversations being typed with their fingers instead of human eye-contact, this will only isolate them causing loneliness and a false sense of self. When you are on your smartphone constantly, I think you lose touch with reality and your brain changes. As current science is showing us, there is a correlation between smartphone use and the effect of brain rewiring.

The growing popularity of electronic communication, especially social media, is another possible reason for the suspected increase in mental health issues. Social interaction face-to-face provides more closeness to emotion than electronic communication. Some teens have gotten so addicted to their phones, that being distant from them causes them to have social anxiety. I think there’s a problem here. Most teenagers and young adults get so attached to their phone that it has become a worldwide issue and it will continue to be as long as this block between communication and social interactions continues to happen.

To some people, phones are provided as a place of comfort and provide a sense of feeling connected to the world. Cell phone attachment may result from the ability of the phone to provide access to information, social interaction and personal security.

I never thought of this as a factor to phone use but recent studies show the internet and other digital addictions are often the results of habitual behavior that helps to relieve pain or escape reality.

We tend to be on our phone like a habit, it becomes a part of our routine like taking a shower and brushing your teeth. We millennials need to take this bad habit into consideration and take into account the drastic effects it can have on our brain and the way we interact with people, not just with our people but for our own mental health sake.

Addiction to smartphones for young adults my age have progressively increased and by the year 2020, 2.87 billion people worldwide will be smartphone owners.

We as a nation need to be aware of this constant cell-phone use and the dangers it can have to our mental and physical health. Children using a cell phone showed more behavioral problems like nervousness, temperament, mental distraction, and indolence, and these problems worsened when they started using a cell phone at an early age.

For the future of our children, we need to make sure that they don’t make the same mistakes we do. Perhaps wait to give your child a phone until they enter high school. This will decrease the risk of your child feeling lonely, depressed, and developing incompetent social skills.

Next time you spend hours on your phone, think about the high risks you’re taking towards your future mentally and physically.

Personally, I don’t want my child to have a smartphone until they enter high school. I want them to feel safe and confident through their childhood and don't want them to fall into the patterns of mediation that can lead to depression and incompetent social skills.

Therefore I call to you to stand up and not let your children make the same mistakes we are making today! The more we learn about these drastic effects of smartphone use and social media, we will be one step closer to changing the next generation for the better.

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