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High School Column: Teens struggle to use social media properly
Jackson Lewis (Web).jpg
Jackson Lewis, CMA

By JACKSON LEWIS, Camden Military Academy

The world has changed dramatically during the past 10 years in terms of how we communicate. With the advent of digital technologies -- particularly cell phones -- have come new threats facing teenagers every day. The teenage years are a crucial time in forming one’s identity, when passions are realized, and life-long memories are created. With social media, such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, our happiest moments and our deepest regrets are broadcast and stored forever, for better and for worse.

These methods of sharing information globally, in a matter of seconds, have also left many teenagers with scandals on their hands. Employers have been able to search through these posts and tags in order to discover what type of person is applying for a job. While this searching is totally reasonable, job applicants lose out on opportunities because of a dumb mistake, no matter how recent or long ago. Adolescence is a time when most of these mistakes occur as the teenage brain continues to develop. Many teenagers make dumb mistakes that last forever on the World Wide Web.

It’s not that teenagers are bad people, but most are struggling to find their sense of self in a large world where people are engaged in self-promotional posting on social media all the time. Glancing at a social media platform such as Instagram can astound many with all the things that occur every day. Marriages, child births, and college acceptances often dot the front pages of social media, leaving many teenagers to wonder, what am I doing with my life?

Social media can also leave many teenagers feeling lonely and left out. Many grow up today never having lived in a world without being able to reach a friend at the click of a button or tap of a screen. This has led to a severe dependence among teenagers, a desire to feel wanted, a desire to feel needed, and a desire to be connected. As a result, they too often resort to drugs, alcohol, and other dangerous activities to feed these desires.

A glance into the dark side of social media can render the average person speechless. People smoking illegal drugs on camera, people drinking and driving, and even people doing things so foul the desire to report such actions is almost paralyzing. Most of these videos are not simply of one person doing it alone, but of groups people doing it together, in large parties, in whatever setting they see fit. In one cursory look, you can see that the people seem to be enjoying themselves without a care in the world. These videos often lead teenagers and adults to try the activities that the video encourage in order to feel that same happiness, the same bliss that the people in such videos appear to enjoy. Combined with peer pressure, this has lead to a huge increase in the number of teenage smokers (of marijuana and nicotine [vaping], while tobacco numbers have gone down).

Social media is an amazing platform. It allows people to communicate all over the world in a matter of seconds with loved ones and friends. It allows things that the world had never been able to do before, but as Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Teenagers must understand the risks that they incur with social media platforms, and they must also schedule time to be away from social media, because a social dependence is a bad thing to have going into adulthood. As the world prepares to endure its next big change, just remember, be careful and think twice before posting!