STAFF EDITORIAL: Slow your scroll

Teenagers are too focused on their phones

Kate Muldoon, Editor-in-Chief

Social media is addicting.
That’s obviously not some massive revelation, but we have grown so dependent on our phones that we forget how addicted we actually are.
Yes, TikTok and Instagram can be entertaining and even informative, as long as the information is taken with a grain of salt, but is the interdependence worth the enjoyment? And Snapchat is certainly convenient, but is it necessary to send blank pictures back and forth all day? What are you really gaining from that?
Social media takes a toll on teenagers’ mental health. We have our phones in our pockets or right next to us at almost every moment–even while we sleep.
Throughout the day, teens always have their phone notifications in the back of their minds and jump to take out their phone when they have even a moment of free time.
That is not healthy.
Constant exposure to the ideal version of others’ lives through social media creates a false sense of reality.
According to the Wall Street Journal, internal research by Facebook of Instagram found that 32% of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, and Instagram made them feel worse.
Focusing attention towards what’s happening online distracts teenagers from their in-person lives. Teens even told Instagram’s researchers that they don’t like the amount of time they spend on the app, but they do so because they feel like they have to.
We need to limit ourselves. We need to hold ourselves accountable. While it’s true that companies like TikTok and Facebook are knowingly allowing their products to negatively impact their users, we can’t expect them to change. Instead, a more immediate solution is to take a personal step back. It’s obvious we can’t rely on tech companies to have our best interests at heart, so in order to protect ourselves, we have to take matters into our own hands.
Don’t open your phone as soon as you wake up.
We know it’s easier said than done, but at least make an effort.
We promise you can wait 15 minutes without missing out. Use those 15 minutes to get out of bed, drink some water, and wash your face or brush your teeth. Maybe you’ll even have time to pick out your outfit or eat breakfast.
Then, while you’re sitting in class and you’re bored practically to tears, try to think of something to do other than mindlessly scroll through random apps. Make a to-do list, get a head start on homework, read that chapter of your book for language arts that you’ve been procrastinating. Make an effort to be productive.
When you go to lunch with your friends, be present. Leave your phone in your pocket and have real conversations with the people around you. Yeah, your “for you” page is funny, but we would hope your friends are more interesting than some random dance trend.
Finally, when you’re laying in bed, just go to bed. Stop forcing your eyes to stay open so you can send one more text or like one more post. It’s hard to rationalize in the moment, but sleep is far more valuable than whichever app you happen to be looking at.
As it is, 72.7% of high schoolers get less sleep than is recommended, according to The National Sleep Foundation, so why subtract even more time from your sleep just to look at your phone for no valuable reason?
And this may sound drastic, but you could even try putting your phone on airplane mode before you go to sleep. This way, you won’t immediately be tempted by notifications when you turn off your phone alarm upon waking up.
Sooner than later, it will be easier to spend time away from your phone. You’ll feel more aware of what’s happening around you without the continuous question of who just texted you in the back of your mind.
It is certainly easier said than done, but real life is more interesting when you pay attention to it.