“How many likes did your picture get?”
“Almost 250. What about yours?”
“Oh my God mine didn’t even get 200. Should I delete it?”
This is a real conversation I have witnessed (multiple times) between my 13 and 16-year-old cousins. Every time we go somewhere together, I know that my face will be put on some form of social media, and my cousins and their friends will spend approximately 90% of our time together staring at their iPhones. Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter have changed the way teenagers think- if 13 is even considered a teenager.
I think about how different my high school and middle school experiences would have been if these social media outlets were as popular as they are now. Sure, we had Facebook and MySpace, but no one accessed those sites from their cell phones ever three minutes. Before college, if I wanted to get attention from someone, I had to reach out to them. Me and my friends would call each other regularly, or spend time together face to face. If we were together, our phones were the last thing we thought about. Pictures were the last thing we thought about. We lived in the moment- at least more so than teenagers do now.
I worry that social media is changing the way young people validate themselves. It saddens me to watch a 13-year-old girl, gorgeous inside and out, spend over 20 minutes picking the most flattering filter on Instagram and checking her phone every minute to see who has liked her photo. Why is this a constant thought that goes through their heads? The destruction these self-focused social media outlets are doing to the mentality of teens is real. I hope they will grow out of their concerns about social media presence and learn the importance of social presence, but unfortunately having access to social media at such a young age might make this impossible.