The Effects Social Media on Teens

Staff Writer: Ansley Kurth

The photos below are probably what every post or story you see on Instagram looks like on social media. Their stomach tucked in so much they can’t breathe. Their back arched so much that you can see their ribs and their arms extended so much that every muscle is being pulled. Their chin reached up so there is no double chin.  

Photo Credit: Victoria Garett
Not everything is as it seems on social media.

We all look at social media every day for hours on end. You were probably just on it. I want you to go to your phone right now and go to your screen time and see how much time of that is on social media. According to socialbuddy.com, teenagers spend up to nine hours on social media.  

As a teenager, I get it. You want to post photos on your Instagram where your friends can see the memories with your friends, and you want to see people posting aesthetic photos of themselves. You most likely just scroll through with maybe a like or a comment on a post or story and then immediately feel insecure, but people who are Instagram “influencers” or TikTokers spend their whole day getting ready for those photos or videos that you see on your “for you page” (fyp) or Instagram.  

They go to their local gym and work out every part of their body and put on every makeup product in their drawer to get the perfect photo or video. They choose a few photos and photoshop until it looks Instagram-worthy or TikTok-worthy.  

Most photos you see on Instagram are a photoshopped created images that they spend hours trying to create. They suck in their stomach and stretch their arms and legs to make themselves look toned and fit. They eat minimum food and drink minimum water before the photo where they do not look bloated. Those people you see on Instagram, who look like they spend their lives in the gym, are not as they seem. I know it may look like they have their life perfectly together and they have that body shape, but they are not all real.  

Photo Credit: Victoria Garett (Instagram) 
Social media is fake because photoshop is an app anyone can get.

Is all this photoshopping and changing your appearance worth it for just a few photos that people are going to see for just a second of their day? In reality, when human beings sit down, they have cellulite, stomach rolls, and fat underneath their arms. It is not called being “fat,” it is called being human. Your body is well nourished with energy and there are rolls to protect your insides. There are cellulite and stretch marks because of fluctuations in hormones. Your arms have fat underneath to protect the bones.  

A source states that “60 percent of teens feel insecure after looking at posts on social media” (https://the forestscout.com). I even asked some people if they feel the same way. A college student at UGA, who wished to remain anonymous, stated, “It depends on who I am following on social media. If I go on Instagram and see Victoria Secret models or Instagram models then I am naturally going to feel more insecure because when that is all you see you think that everybody looks like that and when I look in the mirror and realize I don’t look like that it can be an alienating feeling.” 

A junior in high school, also anonymous, said, “Phones have too much social media on them. If I get on Instagram and see a 20-year-old with a six-pack and even if they are younger you are going to feel insecure and then go to the gym and do an ab workout, probably multiple ab workouts, and then realize when you do not look the same as them then you feel your heart drop and feel so depressed.”  

Every social media account probably has a bikini photo, a photo with the person wearing a crop top, a face picture, and a photo at the gym. When you see that every day and then go to the mirror and you don’t appear that way it can cause so many mental health issues and ruin your whole day, week, or month, yet we still go on there to see the same thing and feel the same way. Sometimes we feel the need to try so hard to look like them by eating like a model, working out, and maybe getting plastic surgery to “fit in” with influencers.  

What media does not tell you is that “25% of teens have a mental illness disorder because of social media,” (https://etactics.com). These teenagers that see influencers with a million makeup products on their face and every way to make them look skinnier is insane, yet we still believe that they truly look this way and that we also should look this way.  

Social media is a game of comparison to people that do not look that way in real life. If you saw those people you compare on social media in real life they have cellulite, stomach rolls, and normal sized thighs because they are human too. Think about it like this. Would people you follow on media platforms ever post a photo of them with a bad angle with their stretch marks showing, stomach fat bulging out, arms not looking toned, and no makeup with blemishes on their face? No, because they do not want to post a bad photo of themselves.  

We, as teens, are comparing false images, and in 2021 this needs to be stopped. In 2010, social media was a place where you could see your friends and family just having fun, no matter what angle or how they looked. Now it is a place where young adults look and immediately feel the need to change. Social media needs to be a place of happiness where you can post yourself when you feel beautiful or handsome no matter the angle or how your makeup or body looks that day.  

Human beings are not meant to be looking like an image that they photoshopped and did everything to make themselves look good for or just to post. Can influencers not photoshop, starve themselves, and put on makeup just to get a post? If people do not step up to address these toxic issues, younger generations’ mental health issues will skyrocket, and one day whenever you talk to a teenager and they are looking on social media they will say to you, “Why don’t I look like the people I follow on social media?” or “I am ugly compared to the people I follow.”  

As social media begins to grow, and the newer generation is getting older, social media platforms need to become the place they were supposed to be and not the place they are now. 

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