This is a teen-written article from our friends at Teenink.com.
“I’ll just check it once more before I start,” I say to myself on a daily basis. I then open up a blank word document, add a header and heading and reward myself once again by getting back on Facebook.
Every day, millions of students go on a social media website. To many of them, social media is like a drug. There’s a euphoric high that comes from having a new notification or post, like the high from a snort of cocaine or smoke of marijuana. The lows of not being able to check it when they want is like the draw of an addictive drug and the painful withdrawals of not knowing what is going on are just like the withdrawals of a druggie after quitting. Whatever the poison, it takes over the students’ lives and leaves a sense of empty pleasure in place of real stimulation.
Social media can be destructive to the success of students. Social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, are distracting to young adults. Every time I go to my psychology class, which is a 200 person seminar, I sit in the same row near the back of the classroom. At any given point during class, about half of the computers in front of me are opened up to Facebook. There are usually a few on other social media websites and the occasional person taking notes on their laptop. This class, full of people distracted by social media, does not require attendance. However, people continue to wake up three days a week and go to a class where they will spend the majority of their time interacting with their computer screen. These students choose to spend their time on social media instead of learning the required material. Why would so many people show up to a class to spend their time on the internet? The answer is simple: social media is addicting.
Social media was first created as a way to connect with people in an environment where information can be easily shared. The Internet is a perfect place to connect with old friends, share information, and quickly get responses to opinions or questions. Although social media does allow people to do this, it can quickly be taken to an extreme. Many teenagers and young adults spend hours every day exploring the content posted on these social media websites. While this may be harmless in small amounts, students spend far too much time on these websites instead of living their lives.
Social media websites distract students from their schoolwork and make it more difficult for them to be productive. Students can be easily distracted and consequently put off their work. Not only does this put more pressure on the students to finish their work in a shorter period of time, but it can be detrimental to their success. It can cause sleep deprivation in students who stay up later to finish their work or poor grades for students who choose not to do their work in response to the shorter time frame. Social media is dangerous for students because it is an unfulfilling time-waster that distracts students from work or real social activities.
When I sit down to write an essay, it can take me almost an hour to start my work. “Just one quick look at Facebook,” I think to myself. I then end up on the website for an extended period of time. Once I’m finally able to close the webpage and begin writing, I feel the urge to open up the Internet again. “I just need to look up a fact online,” I assure myself. While I do look something up, I almost always end up back on Facebook. This can happen several times while I am writing. The flow of thoughts that is necessary for successful writing is disrupted by an urge to go on social media that will not be suppressed. A process that should have only taken me a few hours is multiplied and it takes significantly longer for me to write an inferior paper.
Like me, many students struggle with the distractions that social media poses. These websites are addicting because they give a false sense of community. Users are tricked into believing that they are part of a close group where they can openly share their opinions with each other. Whether on daily life, pictures, or videos, people can add their perspective to their own pages or to the pages of their friends. This aspect of social media creates an atmosphere that is like that of a stereotypical high school. The more friends and comments a person gets, the better they feel about themselves and the “cooler” they are. People become addicted to the high they get when someone acknowledges them on these websites. Social media quickly evolves to be a popularity contest, where the losers are punished with self-doubt and a constant reminder of their failure.
When social media becomes harmful, it seems like the obvious solution is to stop using it. However, social media websites are so prevalent in society that it is almost impossible for a student to ignore it completely. Teachers, clubs, and friends all post information on these websites that are important for daily life. Without an account, it would be difficult to find this information. Social media has evolved to become an important part of the modern world. It keeps people connected and quickly relays information between sources. However, these positive aspects are also the reason that it is difficult to completely ignore social media. Many students feel obligated to participate in these websites and are then further pulled in to the addictive communities.
Across the country, students are constantly distracted by an addiction to social media. These websites prevent successful learning and are emotionally destructive to users. Social media is a drug that is harmful to the daily success of teenagers and young adults. Like any other drug, it takes over the daily lives of its users and is extremely difficult to quit using. The draw of another fix of social media claims another victim all the time, perpetuating the harms that it presents.
- April H., Peoria, AZ
This piece has also been published in Teen Ink's monthly print magazine.