Screenagers: The Generation of Scrollers


Photo provided by Ellie Pearsall

Ellie Pearsall, Social Media Coordinator

Social media is great. It’s convenient, it allows for instant communication with the tap of your fingertips, it can be used for educational purposes, and it allows you to keep up with the lives of all your friends and family in one spot. Daily social media use is the norm for teenagers through simple occurrences like messaging friends about a test, sharing memes, or scrolling through Instagram reels, but how often do the repercussions of excessive screen time outweigh its benefits? Although social media is convenient, it is more damaging than useful because of its lack of face-to-face interaction, the distraction it provides from real life, and the self image problems it provides.

Especially for current teenagers, it is not uncommon for most communication between friends to be over text message or other communication platforms. Years ago it would have seemed unimaginable that we would have advanced communication technology to the point that we have now. The accessibility of constant false conversation may prove to have some damaging effects. To begin with, social media can portray a false sense of connection. 

Even before COVID, people were spending less and less time communicating face to face. The sense of disconnection felt during the COVID pandemic infected our generation long before the disease broke out.   

Apps like Snapchat and Instagram allow you to message a person without having to hear their voice or see their facial expressions. Many restaurants and other businesses offer online services that allow transactions without speaking to an associate at all. Apps like Remind allow students to message their teachers and ask questions through text, eliminating the need for extra help outside of class or genuine, in-class discussion. It is likely the same social skills will not be developed as those of our parent’s or grandparent’s generations.

Obsession with online presence and how a person is viewed by others can negatively impact mental health and body image.

Along with social comparison, body comparison is present all over social media and extremely damaging for young people. Junior, Sofia Domenech, believes that social media can amplify already present body image issues for teenagers.

“You go on Tik Tok all the time and you see people talking about their bodies,” Domenech said. “So many people feel so many different things it’s hard to not compare yourself to others. That’s what society is based on, comparing others. Social media just makes it even worse.”

Social media is created to be addictive. The screentime for many teenagers (and adults) is appalling, and can add up. Phones can be a distraction from homework and time spent with friends and family. For many people, grabbing their phone when they feel uncomfortable or bored has become a reflex. Sophomore, Molly Stitzel, agrees that it is a challenge to stay focused when social media is easily accessible. 

“It’s started happening where I sit down to do my homework, then I look at my phone and end up going on it until it’s about to die. Then I plug it in again,” Stitzel said. “But then I will be sitting doing my homework and my brain is like, ‘What if someone messaged you?’”

The obsessiveness that comes along with electronics is damaging, as it can be distracting from important work and can also be a time waster that could be filled with much more productive activities.   

Imagine if everyday you spent two hours scrolling through Instagram. If you did this consistently for a year, it would add up to 730 hours total. This is a whole month of the year lost to social media. It is not uncommon for people to spend much longer. Many people spend more time daily scrolling through various social media. This is time that could easily be spent on more productive hobbies like reading, exercise,  spending quality time with friends and family, or other hobbies.

Platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and VSCO are highlight reels designed to showcase highly curated events of a person’s life. It’s easy to scroll on social media, see what everyone else is doing, and feel like others are having more fun than you are. It’s easy to think that everyone else has their life together more than you.  Social media creates a false sense of reality that only shares the high points of a person’s daily life. It can leave a person comparing their day to day to another person’s, which is not a fair comparison. It is often not an accurate comparison either, since the photos that make up a person’s Instagram feed are often not representative of their overall quality of life

“Honestly the problem is that one person sees someone else, then they post on social media to prove that they hang out with people too. Then it just spirals and no one is actually enjoying themselves,” Stitzel said.

As easy as it is to fall into constant social media usage, it is important to fight the norm. Next time you pick up your phone to scroll on Instagram or Tik Tok, think about how much time you actually want to spend on social media. Setting screen time limits can be helpful to cut back on time spent scrolling and make yourself more aware of your digital habits. Replacing time spent on the screen with productive habits like reading, spending quality time with friends and family, or spending time outside will lead to a healthier and happier you.