Is Social Media Causing Depression In Our Youth

By Dylan Boilen and Matthew Friedman​​


1. Media Artifact


2. Persona and POV statement

Persona name: Nolan Douglous


 Age: 16


 School/occupation: Pioneer High School

 Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan


Quote: “It is discipline to not let social media steal your time.”




-Coming from the South Side of Detroit in a family of 3 brothers and 3 sisters, Nolan did not receive much attention and thus grew up as an independent child.

-In high school he has devoted a majority of his free time to the development of his social media account, as he has grown popular with over 6,000 instagram followers



-Keep up grades so that he can be admitted to his dream university.

- Continue growing his social media presence

- Secure a future working in the technology industry




POV statement:


Nolan Douglous is embarking on his junior year in high school and is super energetic about his new opportunities, primarily in terms of networking opportunities and ways to get even more involved in the social media industry. He is not sure of what he plans to do for undergrad in college. He ponders going to get his masters in education or possibly staying on the tech side of things and continuing the devotion towards app creation and advocating for the dangers of social media. However, in the summer before his junior year, Nolan started experiencing bouts of anxiety and depression, of which the origin is unknown. Despite struggling this summer, he is still preparing enter and his social media activity levels have never been higher.



3. Potential Solutions:

Solution number 1: Igniting the right passion for social media



Current problem: Social media dominates the daily routines of adolescents across the world. These adolescents, however, have the tendency to utilize social media as an outlet for all of their problems and insecurities, rather than as the inviting networking platform that it is. Adolescent reliance on social media as a necessary crutch has only caused for further suppression of the pressing issues that they are faced with on a daily basis. 



Solution: Reform adolescent passion for social media. By bringing in guidance counselor who gives a monthly infosession on the topic of social media. In this introduction, explain, for the get-go, everything that social media is not used for. Have the kids recreate all of their accounts, with new profile pictures and new information With the education about the improper use of accounts, the adolescents will have an opportunity to engage in a fresh start. It would be beneficial for the adolescents to identify the positive aspects of the prior social media use. After identifying the “good,” adolescents should be encouraged to approach the next chapter of their social-media-using lives focused on those positive things. Everytime adolescents engage in social media use going forward, their mindset should be focused on building and maintaining relationships, allowing others to stay involved in one’s life, and using social media to better one’s personal prosperity. Everytime that an adolescent finds themselves scrolling through the profiles of others, enviously immersing themselves in their lives, they must be reminded that they are not using social media for that purpose. We think that the various social media platforms should collaborate and find a way to brand this new approach to social media so that the users can be reminded every time they use it. 



Solution 2: Educate adolescents on how to properly use social media to gain benefit, rather than detriment in the pursuit of such platforms. Adolescents must learn how to steer away from passing on hate or letting hate impact them. 



Current problem: People often use social media for the wrong purpose. They use it to look at other people, picking out their flaws and criticizing them… while also, criticizing themselves. 


By educating students on how to properly use social media, they will be deviated from being around hate, and rather gain an education in the process their pursuit of social media. 


Students will be educated by providing them with methods to internalize negative comments and use them as ways to learn. A key aspect to this would be ensuring that students understand how to have a growth mindset. This means that students must learn to use negative feedback and turn it into education by finding ways to improve their own actions. 


Another means of education would be providing adolescents with sufficient resources that would allow them to be less exposed to harmful comments and aspects of social media. Resources like this will be provided, helping to prevent teens from being emotionally damaged.


The final aspect of educating adolescents would be teaching them how to extract the positive in social media. Social media platforms were created for their positive use, primarily the ability to communicate with numerous people from miles away. This will be emphasized upon educating the adolescents. 


Solution 3: Empower adolescents to use the tools they have been provided with to safely navigate social media, and encourage others to do so via the pursuit of positivity.



Current Problem: Students understand the negative impacts of social media but are not driven to change their actions, as they fear judgement from their peers.


Aftering educating adolescents on how to properly use social media, they must be empowered to be model social media users. It is going to take a substantial effort for all adolescents to jump on the new wave of social media, yet a concerted effort not only by the educators, but also, by informed teens could foster more vast change. The new adolescent social media user can serve as ambassadors to social media companies. 


It is essential that adolescents have the right state of mind upon pursuing the surfing of social media so that they can use the positive education to prevent hurting themselves and others. 

The imposed solutions would be measured both qualitatively. The qualitative part would be recorded via surveys to students track their points of view on social media and its impact throughout their experience both pre and post the new process. The data would also be received via teacher observation. 



Research Process:


    In the pursuit of solutions to combat the negative impacts of social media we looked at a variety of different sources and research pieces that contained information and studies on the negative impacts of social media. The three major negative impacts discovered were increased insecurity, emotional damage, and distraction from daily tasks. Having these three main negative impacts, we were then able to look at all ready proposed solutions and use those to further brainstorm more innovative solutions that were more greatly directed at the target crowd of students. We also looked at two bills that have recently been passed. One proposal aimed at addressing mental health problems at Georgia schools. The state is putting an extra $8.4 million into funding this program. The second bill assessed California needing to do more to support mental health in schools. The California Constitution now requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Not only do schools have to be aware of these issues, but are now going to be provided more money to assess them.




  1. Paul Resnick, Director Paul Resnick is the Michael D. Cohen Collegiate Professor of Information and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs at the University of Michigan School of Information. He was a pioneer in the field of recommender systems and reputation systems. The GroupLens system he helped develop was awarded the 2010 ACM Software Systems Award. He co-authored the book Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence-Based Social Design. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Michigan and a doctorate in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Disclosure: he currently serves as a part-time, paid consultant to Facebook.)

  • Paul Resnick is my professor for 106. While in class we hardly ever speak of social media issues in schools, I found out more of his stance when speaking with him recently. In fact, he models many of his class policies about his belief. Like everyone else in The University of Michigan Center for Social Media Responsibility (CSMR), he believes that social media is a big obstacle in classrooms, and people need to be more educated about its impacts. One policy Profesor Resnick has is no use of phones and computers in class unless told to do so. While computers mainly benefit students nowadays especially with in terms of taking notes, he be;ieves they are overall too much of distraction and overall hurt a student’s learning experience. He believes students can understand the information from his presentation without taking rigorous notes. While some students use their computers in the correct way, many students use them to constantly check social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram. While students are scrolling through their social media feeds, they are missing out on important class information. Even if they are not intentionally checking social media, notifications frequently pop up causing someone to get distracted, even for a few seconds.

  1. Melissa G. Hunt: Associate Director

    1. Melissa Hunt is the associate director of clinical training at the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Although our conversation was somewhat brief, she explained how she conducted studies using the most popular platforms, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook to see a direct link to the decrease in someone’s well being. Through the sharing of screenshots of their battery levels as well as updates on their mood and she was able to conclude that withdrawing from social media aids in alleviating these worries. This was beneficial to our project because we had seen statistics but never talked to someone who had conducted a trial with the exact issue we are attempting to tackle. 

    2. Staci Puzio is the Director of Student Growth & Well-Being at Clarkston Community Schools. After spoke with Mrs. Puzio, in order to hear her input on our proposal on implementing a class/program to educate students on social media and its negative impacts. After explaining all of our reasons for this proposal, she agreed with our thought process. She agrees that it is necessary for all students to know about the harms of social media, as many students are unaware. Informing all students of social media’s implications on society will hopefully lead to decreased rates in mental illness diseases such as depression and anxiety. Mrs. Pazio discussed how these classes will not only inform students of these dangers, but also persuade them to change the way they approach social media in order to keep society safer.

    3. James Landau: Topic coordinator 

      1. ​We spoke with James and he gave us much insight into how to continue to progress our bill and make some of the more difficult ideas realistic. By introducing this guidance counselor whose focus is to educate students on dangers and proper social media usage, we avoid the necessity of needing a course, but provide an additional resource within the school environment to aid the students. 

Reaction to advice from Topic Coordinator: 


Meeting with Michael Fahy provided a lot of clarity for me and Dylan. Thanks to his great insight, we realized that due to the difficult nature of our topic, as it deals with limiting social media use, it would probably be difficult to legislate this. However, after our discussion with the topic advisor, he pointed out that by targeting the curriculum, we would hopefully be able to implement courses and programs detailing the various consequences of social media use. By creating new programs and courses, we would be able to enact real change as a large number of students could be exposed to this material and make a change within their life. Our consultation also allowed for Michael to provide us with some great ideas for consultations, both here at the University and outside resources. He enlightened us on past cases of similar proposals and their reception, and pointed us to some amazing examples of both what to do and what not to.


Author Contributions: 

Dylan and I were able to work cohesively on this proposal. While at first choosing a topic was not the easiest of tasks, we found something that we both found was relevant to our lives and the lives of the people in Michigan. We did this through brainstorming with one another, rather than one person bringing all of the ideas to the table. This set the stage for our work process throughout our crafting of our proposal, an equal and successful division of tasks. Rather than one person works on the POV and another on the Media Artifact, we worked with one another to combine our ideas and make a stronger presentation of our thoughts and the facts. While word for word we each composed different parts of each assignment we outlined and discussed with one another prior to the beginning of each.




WHEREAS….There are currently no courses dedicated to the use and impact of social media

WHEREAS....Social media dominates the daily routines of adolescents across the world.

WHEREAS....Notions of envy, jealousy, and social comparison are perpetuated by the different networking platforms.

WHEREAS....Social media has invoked negative emotions and has fostered increased utilization of counseling.

WHEREAS… Academic curriculum is often not up to date with modern social media platforms

WHEREAS… Subconscious comparison only makes people feel worse about themselves, and therefore, need help in managing the negative feelings



  1. Review the curriculum, with the hopes of adding a new course labeled “Social Media and Technology,” in which teens learn the intricacies of these platforms and their impacts. 

  2. Reintroduce social media to teens like they have never heard of it before, emphasizing building and maintaining relationships, while using social media to better one’s personal prosperity. 

  3.  Empower students to be model social media users and educate and consult their peers about how to properly utilize the platforms

  4. Educating students on how to embody a growth mindset that will encourage them to use negative feedback and turn it into education by finding ways to improve their own actions.

  5. Teachers incorporating social media education into their lessons, teachers can have a bearing impact on how students perceive and utilize social media

  6.  Embedding a program that allows social media users to filter certain types of posts that they do not want to be exposed to

  7. Creating a counselor positon in which their focus is educating and assisting the students in the use of social media 




  1. It is not truly possible for students to give into whipping their social media accounts and starting over. While they may be willing to change their habits, it is not realistic to get people to completely start over.

  2. The process of increasing education on social media will be expensive and result in increases in taxes or cutting the education budget in a different area. While this is a good idea, it might not be worth the tradeoff in some districts.

  3. Social media has over bearing positive impacts as it fosters building relationships and maintaining communication with others. Despite its negative impact, it teaches people skills such as creativity, flexibility, and many more.


Costs and Funding:


    Our proposed solution would require new allocation of school budget resources. School districts send their teachers to different workshops and lectures every summer break. Our solution suggest that some of these sessions be dedicated to teachers being educated about social media and its dangers and how to avoid such dangers. By providing teachers with this knowledge via workshops, they can then incorporate what they learned into their lessons, utilizing their specialized discipline, whether it be psychology or biology, to further enhance the impact of their own teachings of social media. Not only do we think that this will be more impactful than bringing in outside professionals, but it would also be much more cost effective as it would not require more funding, which enevedibly would not require an increase in taxation. This would insure that more people throughout communities would be on board with the plan. This plan would be rather cost effecitve as it would not require the aquisition of new materials or increased funding. There would be no need for any additonal technology, the only change would be a substitiution for someof the teachers educational workshops. 

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Total votes: 18