The Impact of Social Media

It’s no secret that social media influences us. It changes the way we interact with one another, the way we get around, and the way spend our free time. With apps like Google Maps and Waze, getting directions has never been easier. Through social media, there are countless ways we can connect with friends and family. Our long distance relationships are made much easier, and our local connections are made even simpler. 

But could it be possible that our phones have made things too easy? Scrolling the day away seems to be a problem with many users of social media, regardless of demographic. “I feel like I waste a lot of time on social media,” said Kathy Hilby, Director of Technology at WSHS. Wasting time is incredibly easy when you have a world of information and communication at your fingertips.

When asked, teenagers will describe having a similar problem. “[I would] definitely use [technology] with more purpose rather than just when I’m bored,” said junior Julia Krien. The American Psychological Association found that teens are spending more time on digital media, and are spending less time reading media such as books and magazines. “I would probably clean and organize a lot more if I spent less time on my phone,” said senior Julia Russell. 

If social media and technology are causing such dramatic changes in our lives, one might wonder what draws us to it in the first place. It seems to be a combination of social pressure and clever programming by developers. “It’s cool how, in a sense, they’re programming it to draw you in,” said Hilby. “I think that can be a real negative, but I think that it’s really interesting, and I wonder how we could tap into that.”  Hilby explained that she believed there could be a positive aspect to technology drawing us in. She wondered aloud if, perhaps, we could use this part of technology to get students excited about their classes, projects, or activities. 

Krien offered another perspective: that social media and social pressure can easily go hand-in-hand. “It’s almost like I feel like I have to, cause everyone does,” said Krien. It’s dangerously easy to fall into the cycle of constantly maintaining snapstreaks, posting on Instagram, and keeping up with everyone’s stories. It has become commonplace to wake up and reach for our phones. “We start scrolling through social media, and our brain is automatically doing a comparison to others through that social media,” said Hilby. She questioned, “Is that how you want to start your day, comparing yourself to others?” 

“Is that how you want to start your day, comparing yourself to others?””

— Kathy Hilby

There is no simple solution to fixing our usage of technology. It’s one thing to say you would like to use your phone less, but actually ridding yourself of this addiction is a challenge. In her final remarks, Hilby shared a few tips on how to better use your time spent on social media. Along with setting time limits and using the tools on your phone to allow yourself to be more productive, Hilby suggested asking: “Is this bringing joy to my life, and so do I really want to be spending this much time on it?”