Counterpoint: Does Social Media do More Harm than Good?

Elaina Martin, Editor-in-Chief

   For Generation Z kids, social media has been a driving force in the most formative years (every year, really) of their lives. Many kids had phones in their hands as early as elementary school, and were jumping onto social media trends before they hit thirteen. Struggling to keep up with wave after wave of new technology is research detailing the effects of tech on the human brain, especially developing ones. Not only this, but social media has a host of other downsides that are extraordinarily prevalent and important to address for the health of everyone who uses technology.

    It’s no secret that everything on social media apps like Instagram are fine-tuned and filtered beyond belief and that the effects of seeing perfect people and their perfectly edited lives often brings a slough of negative emotions for many. It’s all too easy to fall into a trap of jealousy when scrolling; as stated by CNN, “While cyberbullying gets a lot of attention, too many students face micro emotional hits when they… see photos to which they compare themselves and feel inferior” (

   Feelings of inferiority aren’t healthy, and they are only worsened by spending time on social media, where “Instagram Face,” a phenomenon described by the New Yorker as an amalgamation of “…an overly tan skin tone, a South Asian influence with the brows and eye shape, an African-American influence with the lips, a Caucasian influence with the nose, a cheek structure that is predominantly Native American and Middle Eastern,” reigns supreme. Many people, especially women, feel insecure about their own features after scrolling through the accounts of celebrities and even their friends, as every year, the number of non-invasive filler and neurotoxin treatments given to everyday people at the offices of plastic surgeons rises ( For many women, the pressure to alter their own features increases with every new post that shows up in their feeds. It can become particularly hard when celebrities vehemently deny that they’ve had any work done when they obviously have; the juxtaposition of reality and fake can make extreme ‘glow-ups’ seem normal when they’re really abnormal and isolate those who haven’t had them.

   Per the New York Times, for certain widely-followed and careerist social media celebrities, each post means hundreds of dollars in potential. As such, these people are pushed to post more and more revealing pictures to “break the internet” and get as many likes as possible. Social Media Star Kim Kardashian is no stranger to such practices and her influence is wide and often negative, as many young women get sucked into imitating her in an effort to meet the unrealistic societal expectations she propagates: “Though [Kim Kardashian] could share a revealing nude photo and be praised (and even paid) for her efforts, her legions of young fans might be exploited, harassed or shamed if they try the same thing.” Kardashian, who has promoted appetite suppressants, waist trainers, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices on her accounts, is hardly a good influence on the minds of the millions of young people who follow her and her similarly toxic family members ( They condone unhealthy and, in the worst cases, even deadly behavior in their efforts to be something closer to a cyborg-like human, perfect in every way.

   When faced with all of the above, it shouldn’t come as a shock that social media usage has been linked to higher rates of depression. “A 2016 study published by the Pediatrics journal found that the increasing rates of depression in adolescents, especially in girls, correlated with the use of mobile phones and texting apps. Meanwhile, youth who spent more time on social media — often accessed through smartphones — have a greater likelihood of being unhappy” ( When dealing with social media, and the resultant feelings of inferiority and envy, mental health is particularly vulnerable. Forbes argued, “Not surprisingly, it turned out that the more time people spent on these [social media] sites, the more socially isolated they perceived themselves to be. And perceived social isolation is one of the worst things for us, mentally and physically.” Furthermore, studies have found that those who abstain from using social media are typically more happy on the whole (

   “Academics mean a lot to me, and I get stressed about them pretty easily. College apps are no exception. So, when people post about their college acceptances, it just adds a lot of anxiety and self-doubt to my mental health — even just the anticipation of getting on social media is not ideal. Getting off social media helped my stress a lot, because I was a lot less worried about what other people were doing, and I could focus on my own goals and mental and physical health. When you’re not comparing yourself to others, you don’t feel the need to live up to them,” said Senior Soline Grimbert.

   Keeping up with the inundation of posts, stories, and snaps takes a lot of time — many young people admit to spending hours on their phones everyday. When everyday life gets too busy, many people end their days by spending time on social media well into the night, sometimes not going to bed until 3 a.m. or later. According to a British publication, the envy and negative emotions social media stirs up can wreak even more havoc on sleep cycles: “‘Getting worked up with anxiety or envy from what we see on social media keeps the brain on high alert, preventing us from falling asleep,’ explained [Doctor Tim] Bono. ‘Plus, the light from our mobile device just inches from our face can suppress the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps us feel tired’ ( Not getting enough sleep is abysmal for one’s health and immune response, as well as decreasing one’s ability to focus and retain information, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( Yet, this seems like an easy problem to solve when the solution is simply clicking off the phone a couple hours early.

   It’s inarguable that social media has its upsides — the truly social aspects, like the connections that can be made through it, are hugely beneficial. Yet, many of those connections can be made without the help of social media at all because it’s easy to share photos with friends through good, old-fashioned texting, and face to face or phone conversations are often even more meaningful than interactions had on social media.

   While it’s good in small amounts, there are some very serious harms involved with social media exposure that aren’t just going to go away. Worst of all, social media has the power to dictate all of our lives — how can we truly experience life to the fullest when we’re constantly trying to find the perfect picture to post instead of living in the moment?  It seems like an obvious point, but accumulated “likes” aren’t a valid measurement of happiness. Moderation is key here, but in today’s society, it often goes by the wayside as social media easily sneaks into every aspect of our lives. It can quickly become all-consuming and that’s not necessarily a good thing.