#Perspective: The Impact of Social Media on Teens

There is so much discussion happening online about the pros and cons of social media for individuals, photographers, and society in general that we decided to delve into the subject ourselves, conducting our own research which we'll share with you in the first of a series of articles.

10 years ago kids didn’t have their own mobile phones, let alone having their own Instagram account but now it has become a norm, even at school. Talking about the impact that social media has on individuals and, in particular, young minds will never be “enough” as it is a growing problem but the more we discuss it today, the better decisions we can make tomorrow.

"Light Up" by Peter Lynch. "Lonely nights in the neon city."
"Light Up" by Peter Lynch, Kapiti College. "Lonely nights in the neon city."

Back in 2017 the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in the UK undertook the #StatusofMind survey and talked to almost 1,500 students on the impact of social media platforms on young people's mental health. Not surprisingly, Instagram (which has over 700 million users worldwide) appeared to be more detrimental to young people's mental health when compared to other social media platforms. Next in line was Snapchat, another image-based platform. As photographers, we know that every photo has the power to help or harm. So looking first from a photography perspective, what’s happening on these platforms that is causing a negative impact on our next generation?

By Crystal D'Mello
By Crystal D'Mello

“Short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that have been designed to be as addictive as possible.” is how Dulkara Martig, outdoor educator and NZ school teacher describes the use of social media platforms by teens. “There's a corridor in school that I call the "robot hallway." You walk down it and literally every teenage boy is sitting with his head in a screen. There's almost no laughter or chatter, just robots.”, she says.