While homework, studying, sports, stress, and outside of school commitments were the lead causes of upper and middle school students' lack of sleep, social media was a close runner up. Of the respondents, 41% of students, or 82 out of 200, say that social media affects the amount of sleep they get each night. In addition, some students replied to the survey claiming that their phone and video games kept them awake every night, causing a lack of sleep. According to a BBC study from 2019, teenagers who spend more than 5 hours per day on social media platforms are 70% more likely to fall asleep past midnight than the average social media user (who spends an average of 3 hours per day).
When reexamining the data, it is clear that the Upper School students selected social media as a cause of sleep deprivation more than the Middle School students. It can be inferred that some middle schoolers do not have social media due to their age. Instagram, for example, requires all users to be at least 13. Although that is often not the case, the app is designed for teenagers and adults, meaning that many 6th and 7th graders would not have Instagram at this point.
Ms. Smith, Upper School Counselor, created a Digital Community Group that began working last year on how to reduce unnecessary screen time for adolescents, specifically at KPS. Emily Shewchuk and Margo D’Angelo are two members of this group.
Emily Shewchuk, a junior at KPS, commented, “I feel like a lot of students complain about not getting enough sleep, but refuse to put their phones/electronic devices down an hour or so before bed. I believe there have been many studies that have addressed the fact that we get worse sleep when we go straight from looking at our phones to bed. I'm also not trying to call out anyone since I literally do the same thing every night, but I do think it is important to acknowledge one of the major causes for the youth's sleep deprivation issue.”
In addition to the struggle of shutting down social media before bed, students are also consistently on it during the day. When students spend a large amount of time on social media during the day, it causes them to do their homework later in the night. This domino effect further contributes to the lack of sleep teenagers face.
Margo D’Angelo, another junior at KPS, believes, “The impact social media has on teens and any age group, in general, is far more than one would think. These apps are produced to keep you hooked. I believe many people forget about how social media-makers are businessmen too. They are targeting certain audiences, finding their preferences with what media the user is interacting the most with, and continuing to show similar media of interest. Keeping an audience engaged for long periods of time has a big impact on the consumer-producer relationship presented in social media apps. The users of the apps are obviously not paying to use the media, so the app must rely on other businesses to sponsor or sell ads on their social media platforms. Knowing what the user is interested in seeing or wanting, allows for better advertisements targeted towards them. It's a full-circle process, targeting the consumer for capitalistic pleasure.”
With an algorithm so complicated and designed to keep teenagers attached, it is sure that some KPS students would struggle with this temptation. However, the Digitial Community Group brings hope to end this social media struggle.