“The addiction to social media” - winning essay by Nathan Steenhof

Nathan Steenhof, a grade 10 student at Bulkley Valley Christian School, wrote the winning essay for the “Score One for Solutions” contest that Doug Donaldson and a team of sponsors offered to young people in his riding. See Nathan's essay below.

Walking into a coffee shop I take a minute to look around. The sight that greets me is very depressing, everyone is glued to their phones and there is almost no face to face interaction. I see couples sitting across the table from each other, but instead of looking into each other eyes they are both looking down on their separate screens. I see families out for a nice afternoon lunch, but they are not talking and laughing like they should be; every one of them is down on their phones barely looking up. The thing that is very ironic about this scene, is that 90% of the people on their phones are on apps that are called “Social” media. It is referred to as social media but it is anything but social, often this is taking away from social interactions and actual dialogue with people in person. Social media is not inherently bad; however the abuse of social media is a very big problem in today’s society. People getting addicted to social media is not the only problem with social media; there are many other issues that people struggle with that stem from social media.

One other main problem is often people try to find self-worth through social media, through apps like Facebook and Instagram they present a version of themselves that significantly differs from the truth. People start to spend more time in social media life then they do in real life, leading to addiction and living more through social media then in real life. Getting more “Likes” makes them feel more popular and they spend more and more time trying to achieve this and start losing their real friends.

The obvious solution to this problem would be to just not spend as much time on social media as we do; however this a lot easier said than done. Social media has become so much a part of our everyday lives we don’t even notice how much time we spend on it anymore. Our school is doing something called Media Free week, so from Monday morning to Friday evening we are not allowed to use media. Doing this has made me realize how dependent we are on media. I thought this week would be really boring and I wouldn’t be able to handle not using media. However it’s been kind of refreshing, not having media to keep me occupied has forced me to do other things with my spare time. Like reading a book or playing games with my siblings. Everyone thinks that not being able to use their phones for a week would be terrible, however the opposite is true. I’m encouraging our school to do more activities like Media free week to help educate people about the dangers of social media. Whenever I go out with friends I can encourage social interaction and try to discourage people from withdrawing and going on their phones. This is an easy solution and everyone is able to do it. Imagine walking into a coffee shop and looking around, instead of a sad and depressing sight greeting you the shop is filled with laughter and chatter. Someone in line offers you a friendly handshake and a warm smile instead of being too immersed in their “social” media accounts to even notice your presence. Right now this is not the reality, but with a little work and getting the message about the dangers of social media out, it can be.