‘I just go down a rabbit hole’: How continuous social media use affects students’ mental health

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Sophomore Kiley and junior Rania say that they’re on social media just about every waking moment of the day.

“I use TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook sometimes. Just everything.” Kylie said.

“I also use Tik Tok, Snapchat and Instagram,” Rania said.

But what’s affecting their mental health isn’t just the apps, it’s the kind of content that’s on them.

“I see girls that I think are prettier than me and I want to look like them. So, I look into like how they got that way. And I just really care about how I look and the girls that I want to look like. So, I just go down a rabbit hole,” Kylie said.

It causes issues with body image, violence, and bullying, especially in terms of miscommunication.

Greece Central School District’s Director of Student Services and School Improvement Dr. Christine Baker has seen these issues manifest during the school day.

“And so, there’s a lot of miscommunication when a lot of things are being written down, which leads to conflict that does come into school even if the devices are away. So, it’s been a lot of investigations and taking a lot of resources and time in order to get through all of the layers of what’s happening outside of school and coming into school from social media,” Baker said.

But how can parent’s help their kids if they have mental health problems caused by social media?

“I think asking questions, just like we do about anything else around what they might be experiencing and staying curious. I do think that there’s different levels of monitoring that are smart to be able to do. But again, there’s only so much,” Baker said.

The girls tell me they don’t feel great about themselves when they’re on social media. But because it’s such a normal thing, they just keep using it.