Effects social media has on happiness of middle school children


An info-graphic that displays different ways tweens use social media. Created by Fashion Playtes.

Abigail Hicks, News and Video Editor

In malls, restaurants, and stores it’s common to see tweens glued to the screens of their smartphones, noses turned down, enamored by the buzzing world of social media. According to researchers, there are harmful long term side effects to this, some of them in relation to their happiness.

Social media can be seen as quite addictive and poses to be a large distraction.

“I use it everyday for probably around five or six hours,” said Ella Kate Oglesby, an eighth grader at Landstown Middle School.

Much like other addictive substances, dopamine is involved when using social media, a chemical affiliated with happiness. Whenever a user receives a like or comment on one of their posts, the same chemical is released.

“Now the reason why is because it’s not guaranteed that you’re going to get likes on your posts. And it’s the unpredictability of that process that makes it so addictive,” said NYU professor Adam Alter in a Business Outsider article.

The rush from receiving the positive feedback can depict how happy the user is. It can even determine self worth depending on how many likes and comments the child receives.

“Sometimes, if you don’t get as much (likes) as someone else it doesn’t make you feel that good about yourself,” said MacKenzie White, an eighth grader at Cape Henry Collegiate School.

As reported by researchers at the University of Essex and UCL, girls in an international survey who were avid social media users at a younger age showed to be unhappier as they grew older. Some of the girls in the study were said to have been less fulfilled with their lives and often compared themselves to others during and after the use of social media.

“I do think that it’s a good rule of life that comparison is the thief of all joy. That is the biggest negative I see with tweens and social media,” said mother of four and Virginia Beach resident Heather Weiss.

Like other parents, Weiss instills certain rules in her household for her two teenagers and one tween with regards to social media and their safety.

“It requires a lot of discussion and follow through with making sure that they understand what the parameters are for what information can be shared; addresses, not mentioning we’re going out of town for the weekend, where she goes to school and so forth,” said Weiss.