My Connected Life

By Xaina C., 17, Ontario

In today's day and age, social media is everywhere. If you own a smartphone or computer of any sort, odds are you have at least one social media account and checking it is a part of your everyday routine. In high school, you’re constantly surrounded by social media! Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, high school life nowadays revolves around these three entities. It’s a great way to connect with friends, make plans, help spread information if you’re in a school club or sport, and it can even help you meet new people. Although there are many great things social media can offer, there can be a couple downsides too.

When you’re a teenager in high school, social media is a great way to show who you are to the world, share what your interests are, as well as to broadcast your personal style. When we post a new picture on Instagram or make a tweet, it makes us feel good when somebody likes or comments on it as it feels like we are receiving validation from the world around us. The problem is, when we spend an excessive amount of time constantly checking these social networking sites, we may start to feel overwhelmed and lonely as it can feel like we consistently have to prove our lives online. For example, if you go out to a concert or event and don’t take a selfie or tweet about it, did it really happen? If you didn’t take a picture of your Starbucks frappuccino with your name on it, did you really have Starbucks that day? If we see a pretty sunset, the first thing we do is snap a photo of it to post to our Instagram -- we don’t actually take the time to enjoy the view.

Often times, we only post the highlights of our lives online and don’t necessarily share our shortfalls or imperfections. This can be deceitful as it can make our lives and the lives around us seem too perfect. I believe we all have a small case of FOMO (fear of missing out) as we see all the exciting things our friends or celebrities we follow are doing and compare our own seemingly imperfect, ordinary lives too it. In reality, no one’s life is really as perfect as they portray on Instagram and we should all take control in the way we view social media in general.

MediaSmarts’ “Your Connected Life: A Teen’s Guide to Life Online”, can help you take control. For example, they give you some really helpful tips on how to avoid this new-found social phobia of “missing out”. They also tell you to ditch the phone at bedtime and to take a “social networking” vacation every now and then. This will give you time to clear your head, do more real life things that you enjoy, and spend actual quality time with your friends and family. The guide also reminds you to keep an open mind and avoid comparing yourself to others when viewing social media, as almost everybody uses filters and edits their photos to make them look as perfect as possible.

Your Connected Life is a new guide designed to help students who are just entering high school balance the demands their offline life with their digital one. The guide was made possible by financial contributions from Shaw.