Impact of Screen Time and Social Media


According to The Washington Post, the average adult spends about three hours and thirty minutes on his/her cell phone each day, and with the increased amount of down-time during months of quarantine, screen time is only going up. The impact of this excessive screen time and social media usage has become even more prominent and these platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Twitter, and Facebook have changed the way information is shared and the way people communicate. 

It has become increasingly easy to get lost in the endless feed of photos, videos, and comments, and the terrifying threat of social media addiction has become a reality for many. But why is it so addictive? A study conducted by Harvard University showed that when a person gets a notification on his phone, a dopamine response is triggered that can be compared to that of a drug. Neuroscientists have also concluded that receiving a “like” on a post is like getting a shot of dopamine directly into the body.

Social media is an inaccurate representation of a person’s real life. Junior Michael O’Connor agrees that social media sets impossible standards; he stated, “I see many pictures of celebrities who have clearly edited their photos to make themselves look more appealing.” When a person posts on his account, he is only presenting the best, most-posted version of himself. This oftentimes includes filters, retouching, and a million takes to get the perfect photo. 

Junior Lexi Capitali said, “I use social media for the purpose of reading news, seeing what friends are up to, and keeping up with celebrity current events.” It is rare that “influencers” on these popular Internet platforms would post content that shows their flaws. The overwhelmingly falsified world created by social media set unrealistic expectations for other users. Project Know, a nonprofit organization with the goal to aid people coping with addiction, researched how social media can glorify eating disorders. With a constant stream of thin, and seemingly “perfect” bodies, it is easy for people, typically teenage girls, to get swept up in the idea of an unobtainable body. About 25% of young people said that celebrities on social media caused them to think negatively about their bodies, according to the United Kingdom Mental Health Foundation.

Social media usually becomes addictive when it is not monitored by the parents of young children, or if it is introduced at a young age. Junior Ronan Mansfield said, “I did not have social media accounts until my junior year of high school. I am not an avid user of social media because I personally do not find it interesting to use.” Mansfield also said that he primarily uses his phone to keep up with his friends over text messaging or phone calls, rather than through other apps.

Although some individuals abuse social media, others use it to connect with their friends and family. Having private accounts where only close family members and friends are followed is an effective way to connect over long distances. Applications like Zoom and other video chatting programs have grown in popularity with the Covid-19 pandemic because they enable people to socialize without leaving their homes. 

While social media platforms have proved beneficial for those communicating from a distance, its increased use can have severe negative effects. Poor body image, anxiety, depression, and even poor eyesight can result from overuse. Everyone who uses social media should be aware of these risks, while still taking advantage of its benefits.