Opinion: Social media is not causing all of Gen Z’s problems. We are.


Amanda Clubb

Students spend a lot of time on social media both in and out of class.

Amanda Clubb, Writer

Arguably, the greatest culture shift of the last few decades is social media. It has taken over every aspect of society and has caused many people to question its merits. Social media has created a platform to communicate with, market to and share with people across the world. It has created jobs, fostered relationships and opened doors in modern society that no futurist could have predicted. However, many blame social media for countless problems, especially those being faced by the current generation; Gen Z. 

Negative effects of social media

Social media has started to be associated with a wide variety of negative physical and psychological effects. One of the most talked-about is its link to depression and anxiety. OHS counselor Ms. Amy Lageson said, “In OHS, I have definitely seen a connection between social media use and mental health problems. The only thing people see on social media is perfect versions of people’s lives so they feel like their life is missing something or they become more anxious about how they are perceived. This can really affect a person’s mental health and lead to feeling more depressed or anxious.”

If you are experiencing severe mental health problems, it is important to get help. Consider reaching out to a school counselor or another mental health professional.

By nature, social media creates a culture of comparison leaving many with dissatisfaction about their lives. Users see a “highlight reel” of others’ lives and compare that to their own struggles and imperfections. Sophomore Isabella Schultz said, “Teens get stuck in social media because they keep seeing all of the good in people’s lives and begin to think that their life is worthless or that they aren’t good enough. No one ever shows the messy or rough parts of their day on social media, just the good things.” The average Gen Z person spends around three hours per day in this idealistic environment. This exposure builds unrealistic standards of health, beauty and contentment that further mental health issues associated with social media. 

No one ever shows the messy or rough parts of their day on social media, just the good things.”

— Isabella Schultz

All this being said, Gen Z, a generation raised in and by a culture of social media, is the most depressed generation on record. This raises the question, if these negative effects of social media are so well known, why are those suffering the consequences of social media so attached to it? Social media platforms are addictive by design. Each time a user opens Instagram or TikTok for example, a dopamine release is triggered in the brain. This dopamine release causes addiction in the same way that drugs, alcohol and gambling do, according to an article from Rehab Center. Teens are especially susceptible to the addictive nature of social media. 

Gen Z’s responsibility

While social media is designed to be addictive, it cannot be fully blamed for these problems that Gen Z is facing. Regardless of design, Instagram and TikTok are just platforms. It is up to each user to decide if they become platforms for creativity or destructivity; healthy habits or addiction. Each individual is responsible for the media that they consume. It is no secret that social media brings forth many issues for its users, so why are people acting like it is a surprise that they are being affected? In the end, everyone has the necessary information to be adequately informed about social media. It is time that Gen Z stops blaming a system for its problems and starts fixing them instead.

Fortunately, there are ways to break social media addiction. If you find yourself struggling with overuse of social media, consider researching ways to end social media addiction. However, these methods require commitment and effort. Bad habits are not easy to break, and making a commitment to yourself requires discipline. 

Human nature leads people to blame things outside of themselves for their problems. While social media contributes to a lot of the problems being faced by Gen Z, it cannot fully be blamed. Gen Z needs to take responsibility for its actions. A generation that seeks to find blame in other things will never solve its problems. In order to solve these problems, Gen Z must become a generation that does not take the easy way out. Be disciplined. Set goals, and work towards them. Find what is fulfilling, and fill your life with it. Life is about choices, and each individual chooses how they spend their time and who they become because of it.