When I was in fifth grade, I got my first cell phone. It was pink and bulky and had to be slid open whenever you needed to use it. I could call and text with it, but using the internet was definitely not part of our cell plan. In fact, my only real experience with using Internet on some of my first cell phones was whenever I accidentally clicked on it and had to viciously exit out as soon as possible, avoiding any possible fees that could get me in trouble by my parents. The best part about that phone was definitely recording songs on CDs and using them as my ringtones. As cool as it was to have it, in middle school I was not glued to my cell phone. Today, we see the opposite.
I have a younger sister that’s just about to wrap up her final year in middle school — eighth grade. When I was in eighth grade, kids my age dabbled a little bit in the world of Facebook, but that was about it for social media. Looking at my sister and her friends now, I think to myself, "What aren’t they signed up for?" Of all outlets, the middle schoolers in my hometown seem to have their lives revolve around Instagram and Snapchat. I myself have accounts for both, so I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with the sites themselves, but the level of importance that these kids are putting in these apps is just ridiculous. Sad, even. They can’t go through their day without documenting ever little thing they do. Posing the perfect picture with the perfect filter and writing out the perfect caption has become more satisfying than eating that amazing meal or going to that awesome place.
My point here is not to say that we need to put our phones down and just live in the moment — my point is that we should not be so caught up in impressing people through social media that we forget to enjoy our lives. Kids in middle school seem to fall victim to this the most, based on what I have noticed. It’s hard for me to watch my sister and her friends think that their value rests in how many likes or views they get. These kids make all these intensely planned posts, just hoping that they will come across as cool or likable to their friends. It seems like they’ll do just about anything so long as it gets them that feeling of being cool. They’ll post videos making fun of kids or just flat out inappropriate pictures. My sister has even begged my mom to go out and buy her a specific pair of socks just for a picture. Socks. A $15 pair of crew socks all for some likes.
So what happens when these kids aren’t getting the likes they’re looking for? They feel insignificant, worthless, and sad. What they are posting and how people will think of them as a result of such posts should not be as important to them as it is. It’s perfectly fine to have and use social media, but once it starts to get in the way of more important things -- such as academics or self-esteem -- there’s definitely a problem. We need to remind these youngsters that it is possible to be loved by your friends by just being you; not by creating some front that you display through social media.
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