Teens who buck the trend and say no to social media

Helen Le, Sports Editor

More teenagers of this generation than any before live part of their lives on social media. With increased access to technology via smartphone, students are able to actively post and share anything online. But what about those who refuse to join in on the buzz?

According to Statista, those aged 16-24 spend more time on the Internet on their phones than any other age group; teenagers and young adults spend almost 200 minutes every day on their mobile device.

The same study from Statista that the most popular platforms for teenagers are Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The majority of teenagers may use social media, but majority does not necessitate all. Contrary to possible popular opinion, Christine Rosen, author of “Teens Who Say No to Social Media” from “The Wall Street Journal,” says “most of the social-media abstainers whom I interviewed aren’t technophobes,” meaning they often have mobile phones and traverse the Internet and contact friends through text messaging — they just do not use social media.

“I don’t use social media because I don’t think my life is interesting enough to warrant putting into the Internet,” senior Jason Mai said. “I don’t think anyone would really care or listen to my daily updates or opinions if I did, so I avoid it in general because of my own insecurity.”

A primary concern of social media opponents is the pressure of being perfect. From comparing oneself to peers and celebrities, the true online danger is coming from within.

Marnie Kenney, a mother with a teenage daughter interviewed by Rosen, said that teenagers online are “constantly being judged” with their self-worth “constantly measured by other people’s response to every single thing they put online.”

“It’s personal preference,” junior Kyle Fry said. “If you want to be part of bigger society, then you’d be happier with social media. If you just don’t give a rip about other people, then you’d be happy without social media.” He affirms that he is of the latter category.

Other complaints involve superficial relationships online. Katherine Silk, an 18-year-old girl interviewed by Rosen, said that much of “what happens on Instagram isn’t valuable communication.”

“I envy avid social media users for their ability to have such a large network of friends and associates,” Mai said, “but I do recognize the importance of establishing real and meaningful connections with people in person.”

But such communication can strengthen relationships that would otherwise remain distant.

“It’d be nice [to have social media because] I would get to meet so many different people that I don’t meet at school and keep in touch with those I don’t see at school,” senior Linh Phan said. She does not have any social media accounts because of her sister’s decision to keep off apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Her sister’s decision may align with those of parents who are afraid of possibly exposing their children to cyberbullying. The Hartford County Examiner found that about half of all teenagers have experienced some form of cyberbullying.

“If you’re going to be on social media, you have to be careful with what you say because it can hurt people’s feelings,” senior Farrahlynn Bonocan said.

In the end, though, some teenagers opt out of using social media for their own reasons.

“I feel like not using social media is actually better for me because I don’t get distracted, so I can do my work,” senior Jeron Lee said. “I’m happier without social media.”