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Teenagers, stress and social media: What’s behind it all?

3 min read
  • Phones, AI & technology
  • Stress management & well-being

What we see online is not always what happens in real life. No-one is as happy as they seem on Facebook, as wise as they seem on Twitter, or as employed as they appear on LinkedIn. During times of stress (hello, revision and exams!) young people often turn to social media to see how their friends are coping.

They want to know how much work is everyone else doing? How stressed are they feeling? How are they coping with the pressure? And then they look on in wonder as they try to figure out how everyone else is coping so well (and looking great whilst doing it), while they struggle away in a feeling of isolation.

To illustrate the problem with this, we decided to make the video below. Can you guess how we did it?

How did we do it? A lot of time, patience and some cool video editing:

Recently, model Essena O’Neil made headlines all around the world. With over half a million followers on instagram, many teenagers looked at her photos and saw her ‘living the dream’. However, Essena recently rewrote the captions under her photos to reveal the truth – most of the photos were the result of fake smiles, in fake situations, and the result of many filters and editing. She quit social media stating ‘this isn’t candid life, or cool or inspirational. It’s contrived perfection made to get attention”. You can hear more about her thoughts on it here:

Don’t let your students’ phone get in the way of their learning and well-being – help them develop key phone management skills.

The problem with the internet is you only ever see the end product. The smiling faces. The best case scenario. You often don’t see the hard work, stress and anxiety behind it. This is perfectly captured in this video which shows exactly how photo-shoots of models gets edited:

During revision and exam time, this false perception that other project on social media can be damaging to young people. It can lead to students trying to keep up with a false image of what everyone else is doing. This can cause stress, doubt and anxiety. To help combat this, may we recommend three of our blogs:

Nine ways to overcome FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) –  This blog contains simple tips to help students trying to do too much at once. These include doing one thing at a time, choosing experiences over status updates and asking themselves WIN question.

9 Ways For Students to Overcome FOMO

Five ways to maximise revision –  if we can help students improve their learning and memory, it should make exam time less stressful. As confidence in ones own ability grows, the need to constantly check and compare to others may be reduced.


5 Ways to Maximise Revision Time

Six reasons to put your phone away – Most teenagers will admit to being addicted to their phone. But what are the hidden costs of this? This blog explores the impact that excessive phones have on teenagers mood, memory and sleep.


6 Reasons to Put Your Phone Away

Find more ways to help students avoid the negative effects of phones and social media in our guide to mobile phone management strategies.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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