Written By: Allison Chitwood, Taylor Hastie, Eve Weizenecker, and Megan Klingler

Congratulations! You are old enough to make some of your own decisions! For most middle school students, your first decision may be to download a social media app on your phone. Many questions might be running through your head at this point. What apps should you get? Which apps are appropriate? How much time should you spend on your phone or iPad? 

We have conducted a poll of 65 Pace Academy middle schoolers with the intent of analyzing social media patterns and researching multiple perspectives that will help you make smart decisions on social media. According to our poll results, the three most popular apps used on a daily basis were Tik Tok, Youtube, and Instagram. Tik Tok, an app known for its popular dances and memes, came in as the number one social media app.  

Our poll results showed that most people spend about one hour on their phones on the weekdays and about 30 minutes on their favorite app. We assume this means that the other 30 minutes people are texting or calling.

According to experts, spending an hour on your phone is healthy, as long as you have time for it. Our poll also showed that kids spend about two hours every day on their phones on the weekend. We believe this is a healthy amount to be on your phone on the weekends, and most parents agree with this. 

Adults constantly remind teens of the dangers of social media, especially with warnings about posting inappropriate content and engaging in the widespread bullying on social media apps. Many parents don’t allow their children to have social media apps until a certain age. Although we ourselves are not adults, we agree that many apps such as Tik Tok, Instagram, and Snapchat, are inappropriate for middle school-age kids, especially the “Explore” pages on these apps.

We believe that a good test as to whether something is appropriate is if you would feel okay with your younger brother or sister watching the content. Are you introducing swear words, bullying, or partial nudity to them? If that thought makes you feel uncomfortable, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the content either. 

Another potential trouble area is if someone sends you something inappropriate. Even if you didn’t create or post an inappropriate image, video, or text, if it is found on your phone, or even worse, if you pass on the content to other people, you can be held responsible. End the cycle of content that hurts others by reporting it to a trusted adult. 

We also believe there is an appropriate way to use social media, but you always want to be careful not to hurt someone’s feelings or make someone feel left out. If you are hesitating even in the slightest as to whether to post the content, do not post it. 

Social media can make it harder to sleep, which is not good for you. Sleep keeps you alert during the day, reduces stress, and reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Your phone can also shine blue light on your eyes, which makes your brain wake up. You should spend your nights resting for the next day, not checking your followers or watching pointless videos. 

Most teens have a growing desire to explore social media. Although social media can be a fun way to connect with your friends, it can slowly develop into an addiction if you aren’t aware of your bad habits. Scrolling through social media for hours is tempting, mindless, and fun, but it can distract you from schoolwork and from enjoying face to face time with your family and friends. There is an application called ‘Screen Time’ that makes certain apps not available for use after a certain amount of time. It also resets every day. A code would be required and the parents could be the only ones who know the code. This can create a sense of time management because the teen will have to manage how long they spend on a certain app. This leaves the teen little choice over how long they get to spend on social media. 

Even though social media can be negative, it can also have a positive impact on your life. It can allow you to keep up with your friends you haven’t seen in a long time. For example, on Instagram, you can see what your friends are doing even though you may not be with them. Social Media can also provide entertainment when you’re bored. If you want to know how your friends are doing, you can check up on them using social media. Social media can also be used to spread awareness about certain topics. For example, if you were doing a project on waste, you could make a social media account to let people know about what is happening to the world. 

Overall, we found out that downloading social media can be fun, but you need to make sure you manage your time well and stay safe.