Social media’s impact on teens

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VERMILION COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — “It feels almost gross,” Laynie Ferriman, a high schooler, said. “Like we’re made to be this one kind of person and we can’t be different,.”

That’s how some teenagers are feeling after spending time on social media and now lawmakers are expressing concern. There’s a conversation happening at the national level about social media and the impact it has on teenagers. A Facebook whistleblower told Congress today the company is ignoring evidence that apps are creating body image problems.

There’s been concern about social media’s impact on young people for years, but the concern is growing as social media use among kids becomes more common. 17-year-old Laynie Ferriman says she tries to take breaks as much as she can so it doesn’t become too much to handle.

“If you scroll through you have to be okay with yourself and accepting of yourself cause its just, there’s not a lot of body positivity or diversity at all,” Ferriman said.

Teenagers are going through a lot, but growing up in a world of social media is changing how they see themselves.

“We were talking about it and they were like yeah I don’t go on social media and scroll because it hates me hate my body and myself,” Ferriman said. “Its a thing I think that all girls experience and not just girls, too, it happens to guys too.”

As federal lawmakers talk about the harm apps can cause young people, teens in Central Illinois are living it.

“I do edit photos and I’ll put a brightening thing on it to make it look better, because that’s just what it feels like I have to do,” Ferriman said.

Will Weckhorst, a therapist at The Rock Counseling Group in Champaign, says he sees this first hand.

“Being on social media promotes comparison,” Will Weckhorst said. “Comparing your own body, for example, to other peoples’ bodies.”

It’s not just comparison that’s the problem. In August, we interviewed Ferriman about trying to change her school’s dress code. She later received comments from strangers online about her appearance.

“There are some pretty nasty comments about the way I looked and things that I have, like piercings, and those were adults talking about a teenager,” Ferriman said. “That’s just gross and social media allows that to happen. You can’t do anything, but you have to deal with it and you have to know that’s what people are saying about me and is that how I’m perceived and it just is not good for your mental health at all.”

That’s why therapists like Weckhorst say it’s important for people of all ages to remember how you’re perceived online is not always real life.

“Finding self worth, from sources, from parts of yourself, things that you like about yourself besides what your appearance is and appreciating your body just for what it looks like, but also what it does for you,” Weckhorst said.

The therapist said besides body image, social media is causing numerous other problems. He says its also causing people to struggle to focus on things.

Facebook pushed back against the whistleblower’s testimony in a statement. They said they, “Don’t agree with her characterization of the many issues she testified about.”

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