A digital drawback

Our constant use of technology and the practice of being online may have a troublesome outcome for the state of our mental health.

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A students remote learning setup involving many forms of technology students use daily.

Maya Panahi, Copy Editor

It’s no secret that the world we live in involves a great amount of time online, whether it’s for school or just being on social media. But is this healthy?

Capo’s school counselor, Kelly Waugh, explains how online school can negatively impact a student’s mental health.

“Being online really takes away from a lot of the advantages that the school system has set up in terms of extracurricular activities and social time that students get with their friends,” stated Waugh.

In-person school in the past has been filled with opportunities to have social experiences. With online school, they have been simply taken away.

“The social time that you get in class is different. With online classes, you don’t have that same communication with people next to you. You don’t have the communication through nonverbal cues,” expressed Waugh. 

Students may not even realize this, but we communicate with each other all the time and in so many ways. For example, nonverbal cues. Now, we are not able to exercise any of this, so it is reasonable to think that lack of communication can have an effect on students. In order for students to maintain a healthy and exercised mind, they should still be making sure that they cut out time to socialize, even online.

“It takes a lot of proactiveness from students themselves to make sure they have that social time outside of just classes. Sometimes it’s easy to just stay home and keep to your own world,” explained Waugh. 

Nowadays, it is so simple to create barriers between yourself and the outside world. There has to be a conscious effort made in order to continue to develop your social relationships.

“Staying at home has isolated me from a lot of people and I know it has affected my mental health. I’ve noticed that I’ve lost a lot of friendships because it’s hard to continue to talk with people enough to be able to keep bonds,” vocalized an anonymous Capo student.

When it comes to socializing online, social media has the potential to be beneficial, or harmful.

“It’s important to look at social media in terms of quantity to make sure that it is not being overused. Social media creates higher levels of social capital which can be beneficial to helping students keep their social activity while online,” offered Waugh.

The community that social media has brought has been a great resource, and it will continue to be as long as we know how to use it responsibly.

“Social media has helped me stay connected with people that I normally wouldn’t without it, and it gives us opportunities to meet new people,” commented Anonymous.

These things positively impact students, however, it’s important to remember that everything in moderation is best when it comes to social media.

“Students have to be careful that they don’t overuse it because that’s when the negative effects come in. For example, social comparison. Everybody posts only the good in their life, rather than the bad,” observed Waugh.

In general, people tend to show the best sides of themselves on social media—whether it’s genuine or not, it makes us feel like we’re not going to be judged and that we fit in. Unfortunately, no one lives a perfect life, and therefore, we’re not always going to feel as glamorous as we do on our Instagram posts or someone else’s.

 That’s when social comparison takes hold of us. We start to wonder why our life isn’t as perfect as that one person, but the reality is that that person probably doesn’t feel how they look in their posts 24/7 because it’s not possible.

“I feel like social media is just us looking at other people’s lives and getting entertainment from it when we could be getting entertainment from our own lives,” confessed an anonymous student.

This makes it difficult to find an answer to whether or not social media is a beneficial tool. It helps us stay connected and forms a community, but it can often generate feelings of self-criticism resulting in comparison. In the end, it is important to remember not to overuse it.

Our online world can have an effect on our mental health, so taking care of it should be one of a student’s main priorities. Having social time is crucial for us to feel our best mentally and emotionally. At times, it is so easy for us to shut out the world beyond our bedrooms, but I implore you to seek it and enjoy it to your fullest ability.