Feeling bad? Maybe it’s time to sign up.

It may be the first generation to reach the Millennials network, but the heirs of Generation Z have really grown up with it, and it almost never ends.

A 2018 survey at the Pew Research Center found that 95 percent of teens have access to a cell phone; 45 percent say they use the Internet almost continuously. For many of them, social media has been a space for self-expression, entertainment, and connection.

But as the use of social media among teens has increased, so have the rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. Although the relationship is not directly correlated, it has been shown that certain platforms have exacerbated the mental health problems of young people; for example, internal research documents leaked to whistleblower Facebook leaked to The Wall Street Journal by Instagram showed that Instagram was worsening the body image problems of one in three teenage girls.

A March 2022 study published in the journal Nature found that the relationship between social media use and mental health varied with age, but there were two windows that had a negative impact on adolescent well-being. : early puberty and again around age 19.

Emma Lembke, a high school student at Washington University in St. Louis. Louis experienced these negative effects directly. That’s why he launched the Log Off Movement in June 2020. The project aims to encourage dialogue between young people who feel the harmful effects of social media and want to adapt to their relationship.

In a telephone interview, Ms. Lembke, 19, started with the movement, the pros and cons of social media, and talked about how he has worked to unleash strength on his well-being. Edited to clarify the conversation.

What was the first social network you joined?

I joined Instagram when I was 12 years old.

What was it like for you to be on social media?

I spent at least six hours a day on these apps, scrolling headlong, absorbing all those unrealistic body standards. This resulted in a messy diet. In these apps, especially on Instagram, this awesome loop of going became worse for myself, but I felt like I couldn’t stop scrolling because it has this weird power in me. Social media served as a tool to exacerbate negative traits and feelings that I didn’t really want to have.

Recent news has highlighted the negative effects that social media can have on young people and self-esteem. How did these stories affect your thinking about the project?

The first article I read really got me started on how Smartphones Destroyed a Generation. I have found from study to study that the possible correlation between anxiety rates, suicide rates, and eating disorders continues to increase with utilization rates.

What other factors prompted the decision to start the End Movement?

The strongest thing for me was not the studies. It was that personal stories weren’t told and there was no epicenter for people to come together and tell: “Here’s my personal experience”. “Here’s how they hurt me.” “Those were the things that made me feel worse about myself.” I knew it was necessary. The genius is out of the bottle.

As a member of Z, we understand that there are both positive and negative features on social media, but right now, in today’s use, it can be really detrimental.

How does the Log Off Movement deal with these issues?

Through our podcast, our leadership board, the educational curriculum and blogs for the safe use of online spaces, we are discussing the ways in which we can move forward and become a tool instead of becoming a driver again.

What we ask of teenagers is to be comfortable talking about their experiences so that legislators can educate them to understand the Z-generation perspective, what technology we need, what privacy concerns we have, what mental health concerns we have. to be. We have a promotional initiative through Tech[nically] The policy, which promotes laws that help teens have a safe online experience, specifically the California Age Code Design Bill.

Your website says that you want to promote healthy ways to stay on social media instead of asking people to completely disconnect. How healthy is your commitment to social media?

I know for a fact that I can’t finish. Healthy use of social media would be any interaction that the user feels as if he is benefiting and does not harm his health. Ending in the mind is for a second and what makes you the happiest and reflect on why you are on social media. If you don’t benefit, then I’ll tell you that the healthiest lifestyle and healthy habit on social media is to sign up.

Having a digital presence can feel inevitable in today’s era. However, it does not necessarily consume everything. How have you adapted your relationship to social media? What methods have worked?

Every time I go through a stressful period with exams, I delete Instagram. I know that in times of stress, I will bow down to use it as a way to deal with nonsense. Another thing that has worked for me is Grayscale, which makes the phone only appear in black and white.

I always suggest Screentime Genie, which offers screen time limiting solutions. I use Habit Lab for Chrome, which helps you reduce network time. It creates a level of friction between you and your addictive technology.

Are there any apps you particularly like?

BeReal is my favorite. At one point in the day, you will receive a notification that says, “It’s time to be real.” And you take a picture of what you’re doing. It feels like a real moment in someone’s day.

What feedback have you received from other teens?

One of them spent six hours a day on social media and said his eyes were sore. Going down, he said, he sees better now. He feels that the world is much clearer, both mentally and physically, for him.

What changes have you seen in your mental health as a result of restricting your social media consumption?

I’m still dealing with my generalized anxiety disorder, my OCD. But I can say that the symptoms, especially around my body image, have really diminished.

What is your ultimate goal with this effort?

I really hope to create a kind of pivot that prioritizes the well-being of users in these networked environments. Technology is embedded in the DNA of our generation. He is working to push for regulation so that more systematic habits can change, where people feel better protected and healthier.

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