Plugged In- Part 3

Social media is constantly changing the way generations connect, share information, and socialize. However, it is questionable whether it has had a positive or negative impact on students. Arts & Entertainment Editor Hannah Woehrle | News editor Editor Mady Sherman | Staff Writer Abbey Brooks

When senior Haley Samborn first got social media in the eighth grade, she would post regularly. She considered it to be a way to see what was going on in other people’s lives. However, it turned into something she would use to measure her social status against other people’s and today, she proudly does not use social media.
“As much as I hate to admit it, I did care a lot about my social status on social media,” Samborn said. “I remember when they came out with Snapchat Map. I can’t believe looking back, how much I cared about that. I almost got out of the house sometimes just because I knew if I didn’t people would always just see that I was home.”
Although she deactivated her accounts, Samborn said she believes that social media isn’t bad when it’s done right. She said that she liked seeing accounts for various clubs and teams and she thinks that it is a useful tool for information and a way for people to see what is going on around them.
“I think that social media is a good thing, I like social media, I just know that when I used it, I abused myself because of it,” Samborn said.
During her sophomore year, Samborn challenged herself to delete Instagram for a year, a goal she accomplished. What she found was that her life did not change much during that year, but she recognizes that she was just replacing one source of media with another.
“I was trying to improve my outlook on my social life,” Samborn said. “I’ve always been a big advocate of not caring how many likes you get or how many followers you have. I want say I’ve never cared about that but I have, and that’s what I was trying to get rid of.”
Samborn re-downloaded her Instagram account during her junior year, but the summer before her senior year, she decided to not just delete Instagram, but all forms of social media.
“This past summer, I went on a mission trip with my church and we didn’t have our phones for the entire week,” Samborn said. “It was nice to be out of town for a week with no technology. I enjoyed the things around me a lot more, and when I came back home, I decided to get rid of all social media.”
Phantom Vibration Syndrome, the perception that one’s mobile phone is vibrating or ringing when it is not, is a common complex that most teens have in a result of dependency of social media. Clinical Social Worker Kelly Passalacqua has seen the effects of social media on teen mental health and believes that social media is addictive.
“It’s that constant feedback, it literally increases the feel good chemicals in your brain,” Passalacqua said. “As teenagers, you tend to be more susceptible to that feel good portion of the brain, so you’re going to be more susceptible to being addicted. That portion of the brain is just trying to find some good excitement.”
Additionally, Passalacqua said that social media can sometimes cause anxiety and depression. It is more often, however, that it worsens symptoms that are already affecting teens.
“It’s a part of everyone’s life, we know we can’t stop it, so more than anything we need to look at the balance of social media,” Passalacqua said. “Social media tends to increase the feelings of isolation and actual loneliness, even though it’s supposed to do the opposite.”
Passalacqua believes that it is important for teens to put limitations on social media in order to have a positive outlook on oneself and for their mental health. Passalacqua said that often when young adults transition into college, they are overwhelmed to the point where they need counseling because of the lack of self-management skills.
“Particularly with social media, if you see yourself picking up that phone and checking it all the time, you might have to make a conscience effort, even if that means setting alarms, or having apps that shut off your phones for you,” Passalacqua said. “Right now you might have parents that take your phones at night, but soon you won’t have that.”
Senior Payton Stearns, like Samborn, has been using social media since eighth grade when it first became popular among her peers; however, Stearns believes that social media is a positive tool that can be used in several different ways.
“I got [social media] because all of my friends were getting it,” Stearns said. “It was a way for me to express myself. It was a way to show people some of the cool things I was doing and people I was meeting, and it was a way to communicate with my friends.”
Stearns said that she posts about everyday on either Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, or VSCO, and spends on average of five hours a day on her phone. She said that aside from connecting with people, she thinks social media is a way for anyone to express how they are feeling, their morals, and advocate for different things like school events.
“Social media brings people together; it is a way of advertising your life,” Stearns said. “Everyone is constantly seeing everything happening around us, especially the happy things, and if there is something that is bad that happens there are literally billions of people online that can back you up and give support.”
Stearns also believes social media comes with limits and requires a good state of mind to use social media. She said that it is a way for people to express their opinions and share what is going on in their lives.
“Social media is a positive impact on my life because I have learned the respective boundaries I can go and stay in between for me to feel happy,” Stearns. “It is a positive light in which I can express myself without bragging or diminishing other people and it is a mindset in how you go about it.”
Jim Adame, owner and founder of The Loch, also believes that social media has a big impact and that it can be beneficial. Adame uses the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram to promote his business and help it grow. He said that social media is the ultimate advertising platform because it reaches such a large audience and it is inexpensive.
“Exposure to social media has helped the evolution of The Loch, a local coffee shop, figuring out how we want to be perceived by the public,” Adame said. “I started with this very simple goal of introducing our coffee to the area, and as time went on, I was exposed to more shops around the world.”
Adame said that social media has helped him model his business after others and that because of its global stage, he has been able to shape his perception of not only the coffee realm, but the business realm in general. Social media has also helped The Loch earn national recognition in coffee magazines.
“There is no way the magazines would have known about us but they heard about us through social media, loved what we stood for, loved the vibe, and decided to do an article on us,” Adame said.
Even though Stearns agrees that social media can be beneficial, she said that she knows that not everything put out on the internet is positive and that social media can be a way to avoid face-to-face contact.
“Social media, and what you do with it, is a mindset,” Stearns said. “How you portray yourself, your morals, and your hopes and dreams. Based off of this elegant, yet extremely complicated skill, one can be a social media user who encourages others around them to be the best they can be; however, one could use it to diminish others, and even themselves, to get a rise out of the surrounding community.”
School Resource Officer Eddie Hinson said that before coming to Midland High, he didn’t think social media was that of much significance, but since he has been as MHS, he has realized that social media is in fact a big deal and that he believes it does more harm than good; however, he said that he knows he only sees a few students out of the entire population at Midland High, and that it is only a select few who make it bad.
“I don’t think the high school in general has a problem with social media, I think it is the people who use social media, abuse it, and make poor choices when they’re using it,” Hinson said. “I don’t think it is a problem to use social media on your phone in high school, you just have to be responsible and make good choices.”
Even though Passalacqua said that social media can have some very negative effects, she believes that it has to potential to have a positive impact. She said that individuals have to be aware of what they are putting online and how it will affect others.
“You need to be self aware of what you put out there,” Passalacqua said. “Not only how others are going to perceive you, but what are you doing to help lift others up. What is your contribution in this, are you just spewing negativity cutting others down or are you lifting others up.”