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New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

Social Media is an imagination killer

Children are growing up too fast and social media is to blame
Alexia Green
A stuffed animal surrounded by overpriced beauty products commonly owned by pre-teens

We’ve all heard of the “10–12-year-old Sephora girls” that wreak havoc in our local Sephoras trying to get the last Rare Beauty blush or hyaluronic acid serum for their baby-like skin. This is just a small example of a growing issue happening in our society. Children are growing up way too fast and aren’t learning to appreciate what is right in front of them. 

Young children have access to social media from such a young age and idolize grown adults going on brand trips or getting sent products by companies. Consequently, kids want to wear expensive clothes and do extravagant things. I remember playing with slime when I was younger and making “time machines” out of huge cardboard boxes. Now, I miss when life was that simple. These experiences are less and less common each passing year, and I see kids picking TikTok over their imagination. 

The real issue with this is that children don’t get to be children anymore because the stress of social media is hanging over their heads from such an early age. The number of likes or followers can overrun an immature brain and give kids the wrong values in life. I got an Instagram account in middle school and then soon deleted it because I was on it so much that I would forget homework or not go outside for an entire day. It was not the norm for everyone to have Instagram, so there was no sense of FOMO. Nowadays, I see my sister glued to her phone texting her friends on Snapchat or filming a TikTok just trying to keep up with everyone. My parents have many times had to physically take the phone from her to get her attention. 

A more recent potential cause of the spike in young children using social media ties back to when we were in lockdown and social media was used to make connections between people. I know that is when my sister joined TikTok and connected with her friends. In that situation it made sense, but the problem is that we didn’t ever disconnect when we could got back to our in-person and non-remote lives. It’s how children have experienced life since they were 7 or 8. 

This is the main reason I believe this issue is not directly the fault of our youth. The pandemic has affected the way we interact as humans. At the time, it was the only form of communication for everyone, and sharing things through social media kept everyone connected. Now that the world is relatively back to normal, we need to teach children to disconnect and touch the grass.

Materialism is one major thing that results from social media trends and promotions. Influencers make a stupid amount of money off of brand deals and promoting different products. Many will push expensive products onto people’s feeds, raving about how amazing it is and how people need them. As a 10-to-12-year-old, I would’ve been “influenced” by these luxurious products, and no one can blame these kids for wanting them. But there is a significant lack of appreciation of material items among children these days. 

Saying, “$128 isn’t even that much!” To say I was shocked was an understatement.

When I went to a Lululemon the other day, I saw a young girl clutching the infamous scuba hoodie and begging her mother, saying, “$128 isn’t even that much!” To say I was shocked was an understatement. There is a substantial lack of understanding of how much effort and work is put into making money. I feel like the purpose of influencers is to make life look effortless, and it portrays an incredibly inaccurate lifestyle. Young minds don’t have the experience to know that this is not a reality. 

This problem is bigger in different areas of this country. It is more prominent in the North Shore because we have normalized giving a 10-to-12-year-old a phone and access to social media. The presence of money in our community makes materialism a problem for any age group but it is hard for parents to tell their children they aren’t allowed to look like their idols, even if they are 23 and living in Los Angeles.  I know I grew up with social media, and when TikTok became a thing, I BEGGED for it. I wish I could go back and make myself wait a little longer. 

As a society, we need to do a better job of guiding the next generation. Let them be children and encourage them to play outside or read a book. Help them use their imagination to do things. These children don’t know any better, and they rely on us to tell them how things work and the messages that social media is sending are not helpful and very superficial. I want my sister to appreciate what is around her and the relationships she has in real life rather than focusing on what people like Alix Earle are doing.

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