Name: Alexis Dehmer
From: La Crosse, Wisconsin
Screen Time: The Scrolling Killer
Screen Time: The Scrolling Killer
5 hours and 13 minutes. This is the crippling amount of screentime I have spent on social media today. It is 6:30 pm. If I were to attach an image of my Iphone “screen time” statistics for the day, it would show the hours split up between social media apps like Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram etc. This is a common amount of social media screen time for me this semester. It feels like my life is a cycle of scrolling through online platforms, completing online school assignments, work and repeat. This cycle is draining and while it may seem easy to just shut off my phone or delete the social media apps: I cannot seem to do it. Maybe this is a form of addiction, maybe it’s a form of distraction from my issues or trauma- I’m not sure.
In relation to mental health and addiction issues; high screentime is just one sign I recognize in today’s young adults and their rising issues. There is no doubt that this culture is increasing its social media usage every single day. In my personal experience, the pandemic has taken a major toll in my mental health. I noticed myself spending hours upon hours scrolling through and comparing myself to others who lived seemingly perfect lives. This self-comparison occurs non-stop, every single day on every single platform. I can only speak for myself; but I truly believe that this over usages of social media apps is where my addictions started. Social media romanticizes things like eating disorders, smoking and other substance abuse. Social media has no bounds in opening young people’s minds to “experimenting” with drugs or trying new (very unhealthy) eating habits.
Personally, substance addiction has affected my everyday life. My father committed suicide about three years ago. He struggled with substance abuse among other mental health issues. After his passing, I was enlightened and seeked to be more informed on addiction and mental health issues. At the time, I had no idea he was struggling in any sense and I missed any signs of struggle. Flash forward too today, I attempt to recognize early signs/triggers of addiction and struggling mentally in myself and others. One trigger for a decreased mental health I see in myself is heightened screen time. On days my screen time is very high on social media, are the days I spend laying in bed and not accomplishing much.
There is no doubt that this country is lucky to have such advanced technology that allows students to be educated safely during a pandemic. I feel blessed to have the resources I need to learn and grow as a student at the touch of my fingertips. However; I am starting to think it is not as safe as it seems. The overwhelming amount of social media content is truly damaging to young persons’ mental health. It is a cruel world of self comparison with unrealistic and unattainable economic, beauty, social standards. Vaping is romanticized. Drinking is romanticized. Cocaine is romanticised. “Study drugs” are romanticized. Eating disorders are romanticized. Etc. All of these topics are topics of videos I was exposed to just today during my 5 hours and 13 minutes of scrolling. I truly believe this is a very relevant reason this nation is dealing with the addiction crisis. Young children are on these apps and being exposed at such a young age too substances and unhealthy behaviors non-stop without censorship.
On an individual and societal level, there is much to be done to combat the young adult social media crisis. Self-Comparison is not going away for adolescents/young adults any time soon. On a personal level, if I am busy with my own life obligations- I spend much less time scrolling and wishing I was living someone else’s’. The screen time crisis may lessen nationally, when students are fully in-person with classes and other obligations like sports or jobs. I think on a national level, there needs to be more awareness to what youth are truly being exposed to this day in age online. As a 19 year old college student, I truly worry about what my 14 year old brother is seeing online. There is no censorship and the celebration of any type of addictive behaviors are being thrown onto social media platforms everywhere one scrolls. The national awareness for censorship and monitored screen time needs to be made clear to parents/ people raising youth in this country. Social media is currently playing a major role in the minds and behaviors of the country’s youth. I spent 5 hours today scrolling. 5 hours distracting myself from issues in my own life. 5 hours comparing myself to others bodies and social status. 5 hours thinking about experimenting with new substances that I saw “trends” for online. 5 hours of scrolling that I could have been using to gain accurate knowledge, exercise, work, complete assignments or talk to friends/family.