According to a Statista survey conducted to show the amount of the U.S. population with a social media profile from 2008 to 2017, the percentage has skyrocketed from 24 percent to now 81 percent.
Social media is useful for a variety of things in our daily lives; whether it be getting in contact with someone for work or personal purposes, retrieving your news, etc. On the other hand, you also must consider how it can affect millennials, specifically teenagers, from a self-esteem perspective.
All over social media outlets such as Instagram and Snapchat, you typically see a mass amount of pictures of different socialites that are depicted as the “perfect human” – for example, fit and toned bodies, long hair on women, expensive clothes, perfect skin, etc.
High school junior Sarah Anderson says these types of people that seem to be displayed all over social media can take a toll on people’s body perception.
“Seeing that the models are all so skinny and toned makes people feel like they need to be that way, even though that it’s almost impossible,” Anderson said. “While they may have completely normal physiques, their image of themselves is damaged when they see someone so thin and ‘perfect’ looking.”
The time spent during high school is when all sorts of hormones and emotions for teenagers are going out of control. Kids at this age are exposed to many different things; this could include peer pressure and trying to fit in and be exactly like what they see the around them – and even on television or online.
High school junior Molly Sivosky said social media has played a huge role in how she perceives herself to her peers.
“I don’t necessarily present myself a certain way on the Internet to get a certain amount of likes, but seeing others present themselves to be ‘perfect’ online makes me feel like I need to change myself in everyday life; not just online,” Sivosky said. “I would say that at the end of the day, it negatively affects my view of my appearance.”
In today’s society, social media seems to have skewed away from the actual purpose it’s supposed to serve. Instead, it’s seen as an outlet used by the younger generation to display themselves in a positive light to the ones that they’re connected to on their networks. This is done in order to receive instant gratification.
Anderson said that social media damages body image and self esteem because it paints a false picture of who is considered “pretty” or “attractive.”
“It bends what it means to be beautiful into something that is not even achievable,” Anderson said. “People should value themselves by their personality and by what they think is their good traits; not by constantly comparing themselves and pining for likes.”
Young people being dependent on receiving acceptance from those around them is what leads to these issues of not being secure with themselves. They try so hard to be like what they see surrounding them that they’re inevitably not happy with the way they are.
High school junior Julian McKenzie said although trying to be like someone or something you’re not isn’t the way to approach life, there’s a positive way to possibly go about it.
“There are a few people that take it in a different direction and use it to motivate themselves,” McKenzie said. “If a person saw someone with clear skin, they could say, ‘Wow, their skin is so clear now; what can I do to make mine look like that?’”