Picture Perfect

Social media poses a risk to young people’s health but there are ways to combat it.


Photo by Kaleigh McCarthy

Zahra Khan

Every day after school I plop onto my bed, backpack out of sight and phone in hand. I scroll aimlessly through my feed, skimming past the same celebrities, friends and relatives I know. I stop on one photo, noticing how happy the girl is in the picture. She seemed picture-perfect, she seemed to have it all. But I didn’t. That’s what I thought at least.

“Hey look at me, here’s a photo of me looking so happy.”

That’s what my Instagram seems to be, a photo of me at homecoming with my friends, a photo of me with my dog, or my family. I look like I’m loving every moment. But sometimes, I’m not.

In those family photos, you can’t hear my family argue over who should be on what side. You can’t hear my mom telling my brother to smile for the fifth time. You can’t feel the discomfort I was feeling as my toes were being squished in my high heels for homecoming. You can’t see me struggling to keep my hyper dog, Rex, still.

Social media has made everyone believe that everyone’s life is better than it is and we should be too.

Photo by Kaleigh McCarthy

We hold ourselves up to an unrealistic standard not allowing ourselves to truly show any other emotion on social media other than happiness in fear of what people might think. It’s making kids feel so bad that they’re going extremes, even suicide. In an NPR article, “The Risk Of Teen Depression And Suicide Is Linked To Smartphone Use,” Study states that “teens who spend five or more hours per day on their devices are 71% more likely to have one risk factor for suicide.”

How do we solve this? We can’t just eliminate social media. One way to combat this is to reducing screen time. Jean Twenge who is one of the authors of the study says this is a good healthy amount for teens. We need to teach young people that we don’t have to live up to the people on our screens and that it is okay to allow ourselves to not be happy.

Lately, as I go on social media I have been seeing accounts promoting self-love to young people and just happy positive news. These accounts help young people know they’re not alone. Instead of opening Instagram or Twitter filled with unreal expectations, I can open it to more positivity. For people like me, this is so encouraging to know I’m not alone and that it’s okay to feel upset or less than happy at times.