Social media has been a part of our lives for the last decade and can prove a fruitful way to communicate and engage with family, friends and customers. However, thousands of teenagers across the UK are opting out of starting social media profiles or are deleting profiles after a poor experience. Instead of being “switched on” are the younger generation “switching off” here is the view from 16-year-old Melissa Johns-Watson. 

As a teenager I am always told that we are the technical generation, the children who have grown up surrounded by social media. We are constantly reminded of “when our parents were younger,” and, “how it used to be,” and I’m growing tired of hearing, “It’s not how it was in my day.” The truth is, I know! I know that times are changing and our childhood has been undoubtedly different to that of previous generations, but for some reason we seem to be categorised as an age group who are attached to our screens, who anonymously bully  over social media platforms and abuse our online privileges. This upsets me.

Hearing adults speak down about how our generation have lost the appreciation of things such as the ‘outside world’ and ‘classic literature’ frustrates me as I for one know that I have not cast these things aside in the place of social media. In fact, I have done quite the opposite.

I am surrounded by enough information, opinions and pressure without adding social media to the already mashed up mix inside my brain. Being a final year GCSE student I am constantly learning, revising and working on my courses in order to earn the best grades I can get so I can begin to build myself a future. On top of the several hours of homework and revision I do a night I have to eat, sleep and maintain personal hygiene; as a girl I’m expected to look my best, do my makeup, hair and uphold the latest fashion trends; by society I’m expected to read, sustain interests such as dance, music or drama and make the most of the ‘outside world’ as well as general recreational time to relax and do something that I enjoy.

I simply cannot understand why teens add the constant pressures of maintaining a social media persona on top of all this. However, it is the one thing that the rest of society seems to have picked up on how much we do, not the rest of the activities and pressures that actually take up the majority of our teenage life.

So I was delighted when I read about Essena O’Neill, one of the first teens to tell the truth about social media and the pressure it applies to our already over-crowded lives. She has set a brilliant example of how we shouldn’t feel the need to create a perfect life for others to wonder at on the internet but create a life we are happy in, that’s real. For once I have read an article that’s made me proud to be a teen and think, “I’m glad I come from a generation of people that know their own minds and have the strength to choose to be happy and not to pretend to be someone you’re not.”

She has made me more confident in my decision to remove myself from the distraction and pressures of social media and concentrate on being me in my real, physical life.