Saturday, July 13

How to Use Social Media, According to Teen Girls

Reminders to do your homework. DMs in every app. Multiple group chats blowing up. All of these notifications can feel endless and overwhelming. Niki Shiva, 17, from Hayward, Calif., said she sets her phone to “do not disturb for everyone except mom” to mitigate her anxiety. Niki explained that she often obsesses about whether people have written back to her, so she tries to minimize the temptation to check her phone constantly. She also said she removed her messaging app from her home screen — it’s now tucked away in a folder in her app library — “so I didn’t have to look at the number of notifications.”

Several of the teens we spoke to said that, when possible, they remove accounts from their social media feeds that chip away at their self-esteem. (Experts agree that this is a good practice.) “Your attention is power,” said Janine Edmunds, 14, from South Jamaica, Queens. “On TikTok, you can go and click ‘not interested’ on a video. Or block people you don’t like. It’s not a shady thing, it’s just, I don’t want you in my space.”

Kamryn Nutzel, 16, from New Orleans, unfollowed influencers she noticed were making her feel lousy, and tries to detach when she starts to feel her FOMO creeping in — by taking a bath, doing a face mask or simply going to bed early. “If I find myself getting in that cycle where I’m comparing myself, I’ll just unfollow the person,” she said. Sometimes, she also deletes her apps for a day or two, until she’s feeling better.

Four of five teenagers in the United States said that what they see on social media makes them feel more connected to what’s going on in their friends’ lives, according to Pew Research Center. That’s how Ella Moyer, 17, from Scottsdale, Ariz., approaches Instagram: “It’s a memory box for you,” she said, a highlight reel of fun moments to share with friends and family, like photos from her prom night. “Every time I open my phone, I don’t see perfect celebrities,” she said. “I just see my friends.”

Studies have found that spending more time outdoors, even as little as two hours a week, can make us healthier and happier. Rosalina Pinkhasova, 14, spent a lot of time this summer in the new inflatable pool her family set up in their backyard in Fresh Meadows, Queens. “Sometimes I like to put alarms on to tell me when to stop being on my phone,” she said.