Millennials may be the first generation to age online, but their Gen Z successors have really grown up with it – and rarely ever logged off.
A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that 95 percent of teens have access to a smartphone; Forty-five percent say they use the Internet almost constantly. For many of them, social media is a place for self-expression, entertainment and engagement.
But as the use of social media among adolescents has increased, so have the rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. Although this relationship is not directly related, there is evidence that some platforms have exacerbated young people’s mental health problems; For example, Facebook’s internal research documents leaked to The Wall Street Journal by whistle-blower Francis Hogan show that Instagram exacerbates the body image problem for one in three teenage girls.
A March 2022 study published in the scientific journal Nature found that the relationship between social media use and mental health varies with age, but there are two windows where the use of social media was more likely to have a negative impact on adolescent well-being. : Early in adolescence and again around 19 years.
Emma Lambke, st. Lewis, he experienced the negative effects himself. That’s why she started the log of movement in June 2020. The project aims to promote dialogue among young people who are experiencing the adverse effects of social media and want to adjust their relationships with it.
In a phone interview, Ms. Lambke, who is 19 years old, talked about the movement she started, the ups and downs of social media and how she worked to loosen her grip on her well-being. The interview has been edited for clarity.
What was the first social network you joined?
I joined Instagram when I was 12 years old.
How was the experience of being on social media for you?
I spent at least six hours a day on these apps, just absorbing all these unrealistic physical norms, scrolling unconsciously. That down the line resulted in a chaotic diet. These apps, especially this awesome loop of going to Instagram, seem worse about me, but it seems like I can’t stop scrolling because it has this weird power on me. Social media serves as a tool to enhance negative traits and emotions that I didn’t really want.
Many recent news reports have highlighted the negative effects of social media on youth and self-esteem. How do those stories play a role in your thinking about the project?
The first article I read that really launched me into it was how smartphones destroyed a generation. I found the study after a study showing a possible correlation between tracking eating disorders with increasing anxiety rates, suicide rates, and increased consumption rates.
What other factors motivated your decision to start a log of movement?
The most powerful thing for me was not studying. It was the fact that personal stories were not told and there was no center where people could gather and say: “Here is my personal experience.” “Here’s how I got hurt.” “These were accounts that made me feel worse about myself.” I knew it was necessary. Ginny is out of the bottle.
As members of Gen Z, we understand that social media has both positive and negative features, but for now, in its current use, it can be really harmful.
How does the Log of Movement address these issues?
Through our podcasts, Leadership Council, educational courses and blogs on how to use online space safely, we are discussing how we can move forward with technology and allow it to become a tool again instead of a controller.
We ask teens to be comfortable talking about their experiences so that we can educate legislators to understand the Gen Z perspective, what we want from technology, what privacy concerns we have, what mental health concerns we have. We have an advocacy initiative through Tech[nically] Politics, which pushes for legislation that helps ensure teenagers have a secure online experience, especially the California Edge Appropriate Design Code Bill.
Your website says you want to promote healthy ways of surviving on social media, rather than telling people to log off altogether. What does a healthy connection with social media look like?
I know that for me, I can’t completely log off. Healthy use of social media will be any interaction where the user feels that they are benefiting and not harming their health. It mentally logs off for a second and reflects on why you are the happiest and why you are on social media. If you do not benefit at all, I would say that the healthiest kind of existence on social media and the healthiest habit is to log off.
In the present day and age some digital presence seems inevitable. Yet it does not have to be omnipresent. How have you adjusted your own relationships with social media? What methods have worked?
Whenever I go through a stressful period of exams, I delete Instagram. I know that in times of stress, I tend to use it recklessly as a form of coping. The other thing that works for me is the grayscale, which appears on the phone only in black and white.
I always suggest ScreenTime Genie, which provides solutions on how to limit screen time. I use Habit Lab for Chrome, which helps you reduce your online time. It creates a level of friction between you and the addictive technique.
Do you have any special apps?
BeReal is my favorite. At some point in the day, you’ll get a notification that simply says, “It’s time to be real.” And take a photo of whatever you do. It feels like the real moment of someone’s day.
What feedback have you received from other teens?
One man spent six hours a day on social media saying he had pain in his eyes. Descending, she said, he could see better now. The world seems to be clearer to him both mentally and physically.
What changes have you noticed in your own mental health as a result of limiting your use of social media?
I’m still dealing with my generalized anxiety disorder, my OCD but I can tell you significantly, the symptoms, especially around my body image, have really decreased.
What is your ultimate goal with this endeavor?
I really hope this results in a kind of pivot in the online environment prioritizing the well-being of the users. Technology is embedded in the DNA of our generation. It is working to move towards regulation, so that more systematic change can take place where individuals can feel better protected and find healthy habits.