Boomers Reincarnated? Student Opinions on Internet Use

Natalie Olofsson, Staff Writer

For Gen Z, particularly Lexington High School students, there seems to be some hypocrisy in the way we use social media. Over half of us use social media for three or more hours a day, according to a recent survey; of the rest, over a third use it for more than an hour a day. Less than five percent said they rarely use social media. 

So we must love it, right? Anything we do voluntarily for such a large amount of time must be giving us happiness. Yet, when the students were polled on the emotions they had after a one-hour social media session, the most common adjectives chosen were “anxious”, “disappointed”, and “guilty”. 

The contrast is shocking. How can we recognize the negative effects of social media usage, yet indulge in it so liberally? 90 percent of students polled wanted to decrease their social media intake, yet only 10 percent had actually gone through with a social media detox. Is social media truly that addictive? 

Looking at how my social media dependence compares with others, it’s frightening to witness the same effects play out in my own life. I started the Internet Column out of an interest in how the internet is affecting our daily experiences, especially during the pandemic, where in-person interaction has been greatly disrupted. What I didn’t notice at first was just how addictive and impactful social media is on our mental and physical health. 

It’s easy to blame the currently excessive social media consumption on the COVID-19 pandemic—the majority of those polled noticed an “increase” or “large increase” in time spent on social media—but to me, this particular reasoning oversimplifies how we perceive social media usage. There is always a balance where social media can be good, with some social media platforms being more beneficial than others. For example, 20 minutes spent on TikTok might leave you feeling relaxed but a two-hour binge may leave you guilty and stressed. 

Though a cliche, balance is most likely the answer. Particularly in a time like this, social media can act as a lifeline for our relationships and knowledge of the outside world. Though it is an individual choice, it seems overwhelmingly true that we should all consider reducing, or at least be more mindful, of what and how much social media we ought to be consuming.