Social media platforms were originally intended to bring people together and establish global connections. How come social media sometimes does the opposite? Overall, social media needs to become a more positive space for all users, but especially for teenagers who are inseparable from their digital worlds.
Although social media has its benefits, profiles can often paint unrealistic pictures of users’ lives. This is caused by the “highlight reel effect,” in which users tend to only share photos and videos that capture their best moments. Not only do users compare content shared, users often find themselves comparing amounts of profile engagement, even unintentionally.
Many teenagers tend to equate their self-worth with numbers of likes, comments, and followers. “I do find myself spending too much time worrying about the numbers,” admitted senior Abbey Nardella.
Social media can also become a competitive platform, in the sense that even friends are constantly attempting to outdo each other with their amounts of profile interaction.
Furthermore, the spread of negativity in the forms of disrespectful content and rude comments can make social media toxic for anyone to use. “It disappoints me to see how much hatred is spread,” explained senior Karen Aguilar. Thus, users can’t always enjoy their time on social media when people are more inclined to spread negativity because they’re hiding behind the screen of their device.
On the brighter side, social media has many positive aspects. For instance, social media platforms can connect people on a global scale and allow for easy communication. However, social media platforms can be improved by focusing less on the statistics and removing hateful content, in order to give users a more enjoyable experience. “Social media platforms can become much more positive spaces by focusing less on the numbers of likes and comments and more on the content being shared,” added Karen Aguilar.
Instagram has already taken initiative with regard to creating a better user experience. For instance, the platform has removed the ability to view the number of likes that another user’s post has received. In addition, there are many features that give users full discretion over their in-app experience. Users can choose to filter out certain words from their comment section, or even remove comments completely on a post. These changes have largely been supported by users, but no matter how much platforms are improved to encourage positivity, “It all comes down to the people behind the phone,” stated Nardella.