Is Social Media Influencing Teens Too Much?

Social media is an important tool for a variety of people. Some use it to promote brands, communicate with friends and to collaborate. However, as younger generations joined social media, it’s clear to see the whole aesthetic, vibe and meaning of social media has changed.

Social Media has become casual, straight edge, competitive, fun, you name it. There is no specific aesthetic of social media any longer because different groups have begun to use it for their specific purposes. 

TikTok and Instagram are one of the prime influencing apps on teenage behavior. On TikTok, creators can post whatever they want without the pressure to please others, contrary to the unspoken social norms on Instagram. Popular creators like Addison Rae, Charli D’amelio, and The Hype House have been on the forefront as influencers unknowingly guiding beliefs and behaviors of teenagers. During quarantine, there’s been a massive spike in growth of subgenres on TikTok. ‘Alt’ TikTok and ‘Straight’ TikTok are the primary genres with other mini genres embedded in it. 

It seems though, that many people are thinking less for themselves and are mindlessly following trends. ‘Alt’ TikTok became popular starting in summer of 2020. Lingos, music taste, and fashion seem to be adopted excessively to the point where teens use it to ‘spice’ up their personality.

But, are teens losing their individuality? Are there any teens who feel they are being heavily influenced by social media trends? A few teenagers are asked to give readers and curious people some insight on an insider’s opinion. 

15-year-old Maru from California thinks social media has become fake. Maru finds value in things like making music and spending time with friends. She enjoys using social media, but finds that it can be superficial at times.

“Some of them be like, you know, fake online and once you actually link them, they’re like lame. It’s all for show,” she said.

Her findings are based on observations from how her peers around her act. “They are being heavily influenced…some of them are way too far gone,” she adds.

Tj a 17-year-old from Queens, was also asked the same questions. Tj loves to dance and enjoys making art as well. Like many teens, she too uses social media and is aware of the benefits and drawbacks.

“Most teens lose their individuality by copying other influencers on social media, most of them look up to certain people whether it’s beneficial for them or not,” she states. “Nonetheless, some teens are expressive through social media by reflecting their own opinions and thoughts, to spread awareness, and to showcase their talents.”

She believes not only are there teenagers who are quick to copy others, but there are still some who have a mind of their own to keep their own persona.

Lastly, 17-year-old Leonie from Brooklyn (and a Frank Sinatra School of the Arts’ senior art major) uses social media, but likes to take breaks from it. In her free time she likes to make art and roller skate.

“I feel like the Internet and social media will always have an influence on the youth of today. Even if I would tell myself not to be influenced, I still subconsciously am influenced,” she said. “I wouldn’t say that teenagers are losing their independence in personalities, but build off of what they’ve seen and add their own bits and pieces- in turn creating something entirely new.”

Leonie said she is taking a year off from Instagram because she felt too influenced.

“I didn’t want to feel that anymore. I want to see what I can become without the use to social media,” she said.

Social media is rapidly influencing people’s behaviors and personalities, but doesn’t take away from their own individuality. After all, these influences come and go on their own.

– by Olivia Hampton ’21