How Social Media Affects Teen Mental State
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Lifestyles

I, An Internet-Addicted Teen, Cut Off All Social Media For A Week And Journaled My Painful Every Day Experience

One teenager's quest to find out whether social media is the thing rotting his brain or keeping it all together.

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Katka Pavlickova / Unsplash
https://unsplash.com/photos/-1MWTZamkwI

Social media gets a bad rap nowadays, and it's hard not to think that it's only criticized for being something new and hip, like when grandparents start a story with "back in my day, we didn't have-" or when parents look down on memes as stupid and juvenile. I personally love memes, and I certainly am not sold on the whole "social media is ruining this generation" uproar.

To prove my social media reliance hasn't ruined my life or anything, I set out to see how a week without posting, commenting and scrolling would affect my state of mind. The following are journal entries I typed for each day of my social media-less expedition:

Monday

Today I set some ground rules: no Instagram, no Snapchat, no Reddit, no Facebook (as if any self-respecting teenager still used Facebook). I later chose to exclude iMessage from the challenge in case of emergency (more probably because I couldn't live without it), and I made the executive decision to stay on GroupMe so I won't miss every club meeting and "urgent" announcement from our grade leaders.

I imagined it would be difficult, but not impossible. I think I was right; as of yet, this challenge has been a series of problems and quick fixes. For example, I accidentally opened the Instagram app a dozen times today, so I moved all my social apps to a separate page on my home screen so as to control my thumbs.

And since my eyes still craved the stimulation of social media, I replaced my entire social media folder with the News app to keep me busy. I spent a LOT of time scrolling through the news. (Apparently, a bug on group FaceTime let you listen in on the other person without them accepting the call. That's pretty crazy, I guess.)

Tuesday

Today I used the social media challenge as my excuse for forgetting to respond to my mom's text. It was an iMessage so I would have been within my own rules to respond, but it was believable nonetheless. I'd say this whole situation is worth it just for that.

School was cancelled for a supposed winter storm (not a flake fell that day), which gave me a lot of minutes to kill off of my usual sites, so I opted for playtime on the Nintendo Switch and scrolling through News. Evidently, I haven't increased my productivity or unlocked the remaining 90 percent of my brain as one would hope. I did, however, cling to weather updates to find out whether school was cancelled for Wednesday. The lack of snow meant bad news.

Wednesday (after having to go to school)

I honestly didn't think about social media that much today. There was no FOMO or anything, mostly because I'm the type of person who sees a rant post or food selfie and thinks "Okay, thanks?" I kept reading the news between class periods to have an excuse to stare at my phone in the halls — apparently that's where a large part of my social media usage comes from. Whenever I don't know what to do with my hands, I turn to my phone.

Thursday

My phone situation was a major crisis throughout the day. For one, I overestimated my battery conservation skills and went into a school show with seven percent battery. On several instances, I considered risking everything to take a picture of the performers, but ultimately, the fact that I couldn't post it right away kept me from trying. I guess that means my photo-taking is more superficial than I want to believe. I mean, if there's no photo and no way to post it, did the moment even happen?

To make matters worse, there were no clips or pictures on Instagram of the show to rewatch. The only thing I had was an angry text from a friend that read "WHY WONT U REPLY TO MY SNAP??"

Friday

Surprisingly, I forgot the challenge was ending and had to be reminded by a friend. Less surprisingly, I immediately opened Instagram and scrolled through my feed. Nothing terribly interesting to see.

SEE ALSO: My One Week Social Media Detox Made Me Realize Time Is A Precious Gift

I expected some vague sense of liberation, but I don't actually think regaining social media has made me any happier than I was during the week, but to be clear, it hasn't made me more "superficial" either. Having other people's posts as entertainment was just easily replaceable with other pastimes, activities I probably enjoyed more than the usual Twitter scroll.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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