Those of us born in my generation (1995-2012) of Generation Z, were born into a world completely different than those who were born into the generation before us (Generation Y, the millennials). Our world of bright screens and vibrating notifications have become something we quickly grew accustomed too and at the same time, unfortunately, something we don't know how to live without.
New technological advances continue to grow in change every day, leaving us updating our phones on a daily basis and always waiting for the next best thing.
It is safe to say technology shaped us into the people we are today. Road maps might as well be extinct because now we rely on google maps or the Waze app to get to our destinations (and even alert us when a cop is in the area). Phone calls (especially handwritten letters) are rarely used because instead, we can just send a quick text.
Even modern day dating has changed due to all the various dating apps out there. There really is no need to be confrontational in person anymore when you can just swipe right or left on an app and find the love of your life online.
However, I am not here to write about the broad world of technology we have today, but instead, I am here to talk about social media, and how I have first hand seen it affect my generation.
Everyone who is anyone has social media. Whether it is Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other media apps out there, my generation loves to share how happy they are feeling and exactly what they are doing at any point in time. It is a way for us to express ourselves for the world to see, and also a way to show everyone all the highlight reels of our lives. Some use social media less then others, but if you classify yourself as the average person, statistics show you will spend more then five years of your life on social media alone.
One psychology professor at San Diego State University discovered that teens who spend 5 or more hours a day online were 71% more likely to have at least one risk factor for suicide compared to teens who only spent 1 hour a day online. Because of the fact that teens spend so much time online, they are spending less time with friends in person and are being deprived of one of the most important deepest wellsprings of human happiness- which is face to face human connection.
Around the same time of 2012 is when depression rates amongst teens started to increase dramatically. There was a 33% surge of depression amongst teens, and the number of suicides for teens between the ages of 13-18 jumped 31%. By 2015, 73% of teens had a smartphone. The smartphone quickly became an outlet to the entire world that many of us never even knew existed.
What is hardest for many teens out there when it comes to social media is how much you begin to compare your life to others. We only see the highlights of people's lives that include how much fun they have with all their friends and what great vacations they take.
What we do not see is the downs those people experience every day. Everyone out there is fighting their own battles, but very few people are willing to share that for the world to see on social media. Many people are putting on a front, proving to the world that they are strong and happy when really right after they post that photoshopped filtered selfie and caption it with an inspirational quote, they break down and cry in a pillow. However, that is something we fail to see.
Social media is not in always a bad thing, it has helped me to keep in touch with friends I would have lost if it was not for some of the apps that are out there today. Despite the positives, I still want to urge my generation not to delete the apps completely, but instead, limit the amount of time we spend scrolling through images and posting pictures.
The scary thing is that depression rates continue to grow, including the number of time teens and young adults spend on social media. It is so important to understand that not all social media is realistic, and we should not base our worth off of the number of likes or views we receive.