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Stressing over social media

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By Alexandra Hehlen, Katherine Wang and Tom Hanlon/Teen Pulse Staff Writers

 

In today’s society, social media is everywhere. From texting to Facebook to Twitter, social media plays a huge part in most people’s lives, especially the lives of teenagers. 

In September 2012, the Pew Research Center conducted a study that reported 95 percent of teens aged 12 to 17 are now online and 81 percent of those teens use some kind of social media.

Although many teenagers may enjoy using social media to keep in touch with their friends, the social media apps that facilitate this can also cause stress.

“I think people are stressed about fitting into society and being accepted by their peers, and I feel that Facebook and social media is the perfect way for people to try impressing people. But in that it is also another thing for people to stress about because they didn’t get a certain amount of likes on a photo or status,” said Elizabeth Hjelvik, a senior at Los Alamos High School.

While some students may be stressed out about conforming to the ideals and photoshopped pictures they see in their newsfeeds, other teenagers are affected by the cyberbullying that certain apps facilitate.

“I think that [social media] can do a few things. It’s easier for people say nasty things. Social media gives a platform for people to do that without the consequences. For example, if you bully someone in person you’re going to actually see how they react,” said Danielle Straate, a counselor at LAHS.
Not all apps, however, are harmful or stress inducing. James Sun, the co-founder of the innovative social app Anomo, understands the pressures that social media presents to teenagers.

“The social consequences are huge on social media. A single post or rumor can be shared to a teen’s total social network in the click of a button. This is extremely damaging to a person’s self-worth and social credibility. Teens are very social in nature, and it’s very stressful to manage your reputation online because of all the social consequences tied to your personally identifiable information,” Sun said.

Anomo allows users to interact with each other under anonymous avatars and to choose how much personal information they would like to give to other users.

“Because everyone starts as an avatar, first impressions reach beyond appearance, allowing for relationships to grow in a more authentic way. You control how much you want to reveal about yourself in each relationship as you go. And best of all, your account is insulated from your real life. You can screw up, bomb a conversation, completely embarrass yourself, reveal what you really think and feel safe without jeopardizing your real reputation,” said James Sun, Anomo co-founder.

The app boasts high user engagement.
“Our users spend 37 minutes per day on the app. Facebook mobile app as a comparison is 17.6 minutes per day,” Sun said.
Anomo has also shown that people are capable of using social media to create positive influence on the community and their peers. 

“We had a user post that they (were) struggling with depression and contemplating suicide.  Immediately, we had over 600 users comment on why they should continue to be strong and live on. The person who posted wrote that they are only still alive because this community changed their mind,” Sun said.
Engagement in other apps such as Facebook, however, has not proved as promising for some students.

“With my experience I have been severely cyber bullied on Facebook. The time I (spend) on social media and caring about things that really should not matter to me take away from the time I could be working on school,” Hjelvik said.

While for some students social media proves a stressful force in the social and educational realm, other students seem not to be fazed by the online craze.

“(These students) just don’t care about the things that occur on social media and they aren’t looking for the approval and acceptance from their peers that most people look for when they are heavily involved on social media,” Hjelvik said.
Straate’s advice to students who do suffer from social media induced stress? 

“I would tell (students) to turn off their phones for periods of time or not connect to Facebook or Twitter when they’re doing other tasks like homework. Even I will get distracted by Facebook if I’m around it. Just know that you have to set aside time for other activities besides social media, whether that’s homework, or actually spending time with friends or family,” she said.