Advice

Dear Annie: Surviving high school without Snapchat

Dear Annie: My friend and I are part of a very small percentage of upcoming high schoolers who are without Snapchat. Socially, this can be very difficult, as it is hard to communicate with friends and even girls because everything is run through Snapchat nowadays. In this post-Covid world, and after the tech boom, everything is run through social media; however, the big social platform is Snapchat.

For example, when we were at a school dance, my friend and I were left alone as everyone was communicating on Snapchat. Most people in our grade already know almost all of the girls in our grade. Now, I know we could just receive phone numbers to text, or even Gmail, but the majority of people have chosen to use Snapchat, as it provides funny filters and, most of all, the ability to delete texts.

Another feature that enhances its value is the ability to tell when someone screen records or to find friends using maps. This type of communication has brought many more people to Snapchat and helps explain its growth.

Now, how should we communicate with others our age, and how should we be able to stay socially friendly with everyone even though no one communicates with us via text or phone calls?

-- Stuck on Snapchat

Dear Stuck on Snapchat: Thank you for your letter. It brings up a very important point. While it might feel like you and your friend are alone in not having Snapchat, you are not! There is a huge and very important movement going on to educate parents, teachers and, frankly, everyone on the dangers of social media, especially on the brain development of preteens and teenagers.

Within the last few weeks, the U.S. Surgeon General has called on Congress to require warning labels on social media platforms for their effects on young people’s lives, similar to those now mandatory on cigarette boxes.

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In the 1950s, smoking was everywhere -- until we found out that it caused lung cancer. Today, very few young people smoke because of the known health dangers. When we know better, we do better, and now we are all learning about the harm of social media on young brains in particular.

Bestselling author Jonathan Haidt wrote the book “The Anxious Generation,” which addresses this issue. He hits the nail on the head. It is a wonderful book filled with data and, most importantly, solutions! By not participating in Snapchat, you’re participating in the collective action that Haidt is asking of your generation.

Your real friends will like you the same with or without Snapchat.

While it may appear that Snapchat has taken over communication, and I know that is hard for you, deeper connections are created through shared experiences and conversation -- and you will have more time for them.

By not participating in Snapchat, you create more opportunities to interact with the real world around you, opening up moments for creativity and learning. Trust me, you’ll thank your parents later for keeping you off Snapchat now.

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Dear Readers: I would love to hear from other middle school, high school or even college-age students who don’t have social media and can provide tips on how they navigate the social impact. I would also love to hear from students who love their social media accounts and all the positive ways that they have benefited their lives!

Annie Lane

Annie Lane offers common-sense solutions to everyday problems. She's firm, funny and sympathetic, echoing the style of her biggest inspiration, Ann Landers. She lives outside Manhattan with her husband, two kids and two dogs. When not writing, she devotes her time to play dates and Play-Doh. Write her: dearannie@creators.com

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