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  • Writer's pictureLa Voz Latina

America’s youth is in trouble

Updated: Dec 22, 2022

By: Ariana Tsegai 🇪🇷

Minsi Hu and Alison Wang interacting in Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center at the University of Maryland on Nov.17, 2022. (Justin Guzman)

The older generation has claimed that consuming too much media stunts the growth of the youth. It’s time for them to educate themselves on the society that’s been created for us.

We should really look at the negative effects that media consumption has on students facing mental health issues as this impacts the development of social skills. Students must find a way to socialize in person and not through a screen.

I explicitly remember my mother’s determination to get the first-generation iPhone, but the price of the phone deterred her from buying it. After years of feeling behind the rest of her peers, she was able to buy it secondhand from a friend.

Not only did her mood drastically get better, but she also found that she was able to connect with others on a brand-new scale.

The development of the iPhone not only allowed people to easily consume entertainment but also provided people with easy access to information that was previously unavailable.

Phone and computer in Cole Field House at the University of Maryland on November 17, 2022. (Justin Guzman)

The rise of social media apps such as TikTok and Instagram has allowed people to get personalized content.

However, there’s a clear disparity in the age demographic of social media consumers, with data showing that around 71% of 18-29-year-olds use Instagram, while 48% use TikTok.

Although the data shows that the younger generation has a high social media presence, the Pew Research Center found that 29% of 50-64-year-olds use Instagram, and 14% use TikTok.

The peak of the Coronavirus pandemic enforced lockdown measures that isolated us from human interaction. We were forced to look for options that prioritized our presence through screens, yet give us the entertainment we needed.

According to Statista, TikTok usage increased with 10% of 15-25 year-olds using it before the pandemic and 28% using it during the pandemic.

Personally, I saw my screen time on TikTok increase daily. I was introduced to new content including life hacks, cooking, and fitness. But I found that I got overly reliant on the app for entertainment and drowned myself in video content.

The pandemic forced students to transition to online learning which reduced in-person interaction. Like many, I struggled but found a way to use online learning to my advantage.

Not only did it suit my introverted personality, but I also found it difficult to make more friends as I prioritized media content over social interaction.

The effects of online education have caused problems in people's ability to socialize. According to the CDC, mental health issues increased among high school and college students due to school closures, social isolation, and much more.

It has also caused an increase in frustration, anxiety, problems socializing, and disconnectivity among teens.

According to the National Library of Medicine, we are noticing a trend in these problems as it risks developmental issues. This is due to the inability of younger people to form connections in real life, rather than through social media.

Reports of students struggling during online learning have created a conversation on how schools are helping people transition back to in-person learning.

If we want to progress, one main goal should be teaching students how to interact with one another and engage in social activities. But it will be difficult to teach those who never had prior experience.

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