Social Media: Helpful or Stressful?

Contributor: Jay Gregorio. Lesson ID: 13305

How much time do you devote to social media every day? Does it help you connect with friends, or do you end up feeling disconnected? Study the pros and cons, and learn how to use it purposefully!

categories

Communications, Interpersonal Skills, Practical Life Skills

subject
Technology
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Otter, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Long before there was TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, or even Facebook, there were other social networking platforms like Friendster and MySpace.

As those first sites grew in popularity, teens and young adults back then were the first to navigate social media. These were likely your parents, believe it or not!

find a friend online

Today, the power of social media has created an age of information that reaches nearly every place and every person in the world.

According to We Are Social's Digital Use Around the World in July 2020 special report, more than half the world uses social media. That is 3.96 billion people.

  • How incredible is that number?

social media users

Social media allows us to feel included and to know exactly what is happening throughout the world in real-time!

  • But is engaging in social media, especially as a teen, actually helpful? Or is it stressful?

In this lesson, discover situations designed to make you think twice about how you use social media. The goal is to learn how to use it responsibly so it will not affect your daily life and, most importantly, how you view yourself.

You are one of the billions of people around the world who are currently connected with each other digitally.

As someone who was born into this age of social media and technology, you might not be aware of how much the way we communicate with friends and family, wherever they are, has changed.

Reflect on the following before we begin:

  • In what ways has social media become a powerful tool for information?
  • What are the disadvantages of social media use?
  • Can social media be addicting?

The Benefits of Social Media

smart phones

Speed and Scale

  • Have you ever seen the 1990 movie Home Alone where Kevin is accidentally left behind by his family, who he thinks he wished away?

If this movie were released today, it would be over in a few minutes.

Kevin would wake up to see his sister's tweet about running late, his cousin's Facebook check-in at the airport, and his aunt's Instagram post about flying first class. He would text his mom, who would threaten to post a bad Yelp review if she were not allowed off the airplane. The end.

Today, you can get ahold of anyone anywhere within seconds. No wonder this is on the top of our benefits list!

Facebook, for instance, had over 2.7 billion monthly active users during the first half of 2020. That is an absolutely massive scale! As for speed, information is conveyed over the internet at the speed of light. That is fast.

Gone are the days of mailing a written letter to someone and waiting days or weeks to hear back from them.

Exploration and Learning

If your parents wanted to know how to fix something or style their hair, or when the local team was playing; they would need to go to a class, or find someone who knew, or check a newspaper.

You can subscribe to a DIY YouTube channel, or follow a stylist's Instagram or the team's Twitter.

In addition to providing an infinite amount of immediate content, social media also delivers this information in many different and exciting ways.

In fact, social media has made it so easy to receive snippets of information from a wide array of sources, people find it hard to stop scrolling.

Fun and Entertainment

  • What was the last meme that made you laugh?
  • Has your family tried the hide and seek blanket challenge with your pet?
  • Do you have a friend who constantly posts funny stories?

Social media can be fun and entertaining. Some time spent checking out all the silly, creative, and nice things people are doing across the world is a great way to relax.

Connecting and Networking

Social media makes it possible to reconnect with loved ones and long-lost friends. Watch Cruise ship friends reunite on social media from KHON2 News:

It is also possible to instantly connect with people who share your likes or interests. Networking has never been this easy.

The Negative Effects of Social Media

Missing Direct Social Skills

The ability to read facial expressions, body language, and other non-verbal messages when interacting with someone is one of the most important human skills. Social media affects that skill in two ways.

First, as we spend more and more of our time engaging over social rather than socially, we lose this skill.

friends ignoring each other to be on phones

Second, it is impossible to be fully engaged with or understand the complete context of an interaction with someone over social media. This can result in miscommunication and the inability to build a stronger relationship.

Cyberbullying and Abuse

Bullying is not new. Your parents had to deal with it too. But the speed and scale mentioned positively above also applies to the spread of negative content.

According to Enough Is Enough's Cyberbullying Statistics, 59% of teens have been bullied online. As a teen, you don't need a statistic to know this.

Not only does social media provide bullies with easier access to more people, but it also allows them to hide their identities. Someone who might never say anything cruel to your face has no issue posting it on your feed.

Identity and Self-Worth

Not everything you see on social media is real or accurate.

When you see social media feeds full of great food, fun trips, trendy clothes, or attractive people, it is natural to compare it all to you and your life. Don't!

Instead, remember that everyone posts their best selves on social media and that everyone also sits around in their PJs with a pimple on their face scrolling through social.

It is important to know your worth. Don't compare yourself to what you see online, and don't measure your value by your number of likes. You are better than that.

There you have it: the good, the bad, and the ugly of social media.

  • Now what?

There are lots of resources to help you successfully navigate social media. To get started, you can read Social Media and Mental Health, by Lawrence Robinson and Melinda Smith for HelpGuide, or watch the TEDx Talks video below.

Is Social Media Hurting Your Mental Health? | Bailey Parnell | TEDxRyersonU:

It is not always easy to take care of yourself, but you've got this.

Recognize when long hours on social media leave you feeling sad, lonely, or envious. Remind yourself that not everything you see is real. Resist comparing yourself to others, and remember that you are an incredible and unique person.

Move on to the Got It? section to practice what you've learned!

Elephango's Philosophy

We help prepare learners for a future that cannot yet be defined. They must be ready for change, willing to learn and able to think critically. Elephango is designed to create lifelong learners who are ready for that rapidly changing future.