by Aarushi J., Cupertino
As a child, I couldn’t wait till the day I turned thirteen, to finally become a teenager. The teenage years are glorified everywhere. Movies and books are all about the adventures of teenagers. From Harry Potter to Nancy Drew, I was drawn into exciting stories of adolescent adventures. My twelve-year-old self couldn’t wait to be the main character. As it turns out, being a teenager isn’t all that great. With growing older comes experiences. With experiences come consequences and life lessons.
Unconsciously, my brain had come to the conclusion that the rites of passage of becoming a teenager included having social media. At this point, most of my friends already had social media even though we were in the sixth grade. Instagram was especially popular among my peers. It took me months of begging until my parents finally got tired of my desperation and gave in.
I spent the next few weeks exploring the app. I was overjoyed as I now had a means to connect to all of my friends and family. However, my feed didn’t consist only of people in the bubble of my community; I started noticing a lot of awareness posts. My curiosity got the better of me, and I began researching. As a child, I was oblivious to the hardships around the world as I was lucky enough to be born into a family with plenty of resources, so this information stupefied me. I found out about the humanitarian crises around the world. I learned a lot about places like Syria and Yemen, which is now experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. This information was the reality check I needed to wake up and realize that the world is so much more complicated than what it seemed like.
On the other hand, I was exposed to a lot of different art. I was introduced to new music, art mediums, and clothing trends. This helped me explore the different categories and identify what I liked. For instance, I found out that I had a predilection for songs with drums. I also found out that rings are my favorite accessory. This helped me bond with other people over different subjects. In a way, the app shaped my personality.
While instagram was filled with information about anything from clothes to climate change, it was also addicting. The unlimited amount of posts to swipe through made me unable to willingly put my phone down. The statistics about becoming engrossed in social media were something that I thought were over exaggerated, until I started spending all my free time on my phone. WIth good comes bad, and the same principle applies to social media.
It wasn’t until I almost forgot about a math assignment that I became self-aware of the excess time I spent on my phone. It was just another day; I had finished all of my homework—or so I thought. Grabbing my phone, I decided to spend a little time on Instagram. Of course, the little time that I had decided to spend turned into a huge amount of time. Suddenly, I received a notification that told me that I had a math homework assignment due in an hour. If it wasn’t for the notification, my grade in math would’ve gone significantly lower. I was so engrossed in my phone that I had completely forgotten about the assignment. This is when I realized that I had to come up with limits that would be helpful in controlling the amount of time I spent on social media.
I still follow these self-made restrictions; they have helped me more times than I can count. For example, I try to spend no more than an hour on social media and entertainment. Even though sometimes these limits are broken, the practice of being self-aware of my actions is what’s important. Over time, I realized that taking breaks is okay too, as long as I complete my work. Time management played a big part in this. The skill of managing time is something that I will always use in my life. I’m not perfect at it yet, but it is something I hope to master with time and experience.
At first, all of this responsibility was a lot to become used to. Although I now have more freedom to do what I want, I also have more to manage. Growing up isn’t all fun and games, which is something I was oblivious to as a child. Am I disappointed that I’m not taking down criminals and overthrowing an evil dictator? Yes. But I think juggling education, health, and social life is more than enough for now.