This past week, I’ve had a lot of time to think about myself and my personal goals and aspirations. I’ve also been thinking about who I want to become when I’m older – emotionally and mentally.

I watched a news segment on 60 Minutes the other night that really got me thinking. The segment was dedicated to teenagers in this generation and how many of us are glued to our phones. They had scientists and doctors test Anderson Cooper’s heart rate and brain whenever he received a “ding” or notification on his phone and found that every time a millennial hears these sounds or notices a new notification, a hormone is released known as cortisol. The cortisol initiates a “fight or flight response” which compels us to check our phones. To get rid of that anxiety to check our phones, we give in and check them in response.

I realized that this tactic is just how these companies lure us in. Snapchat, Facebook, and even Apple have admitted to making their products more addicting for the users. Snapchat is reportedly the “most important social media network” according to teens in a recent survey. Snapchat knows how to pull teenagers in by creating content, stories, and snapchats with a time limit, so you are hyper-aware of the activities going on in other people’s lives. That is also how Snapchat is making its money.

It kind of feels like I’m being betrayed. The social media companies are making their content more addicting, but at what cost? My mental health? It doesn’t make sense. How will our generation grow up with all of these distractions surrounding our daily lives?

Normally, when I need to get something done, it will take me an extra hour or two to finish it because I constantly reach for my phone every 15 minutes. I don’t even think about what I’m doing when I’m reaching for it, and it almost feels like a natural instinct, which is a major problem. I know I can’t, and shouldn’t, be doing this when I have a professional job when I’m older. I know I shouldn’t be doing that when I’m trying to study for the SAT. Even though we know all of these things are bad, we continue to do it, like an addiction.

Social media has become the new norm. Kids are starting to obtain electronics at earlier ages. They are starting to learn through social media and even learn from their older siblings. They’re reading e-readers instead of books and playing games on their iPads instead of playing games outside. Technology is a great asset to our daily lives, and we would not be able to get certain things done without it. However, we have to realize that turning the screen off for a little bit can enhance our mood and our relationships.

After about a week of no social media, I got back on it. I was kind of disappointed in myself because I felt refreshed when I didn’t have it. Hopefully, I can take those periods of separation from social media more often, and I encourage others to do the same. It’s always good to put yourself and your emotional and mental needs first. So, remember to focus on yourself from time to time, instead of what everyone else is doing.

Written by Grayson Ruiz

Online Editor