25 percent of NSHS students ‘obsessed’ with social media

25 percent of NSHS students ‘obsessed’ with social media

Students who participated in a survey on social media use at North Smithfield High School include, from left, Oliva Marcantonio, Elizabeth Gotta, Jillian Hoppe, Maria Munschy, who ran the online survey, Quintyn Anderson and Connor McMullin.

Editor’s note: As part of her senior project, Maria Munschy completed field work in journalism and wrote the following article for The Breeze on a study she conducted on social media use at North Smithfield High School. Munschy created the study and distributed it to as many students as she could reach.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – When 214 North Smithfield High School students were surveyed for their opinions about the impact social media has on their lives, 25 percent, or 53 people, claimed they are “obsessed” with it.

Of the respondents surveyed, all of the students had a social media account of some kind.

Snapchat and Instagram were the two most popular social media outlets, with 185 of the 214 respondents having accounts.

According to experts such as Maryanne Gaitho, social media is an important feature in most people’s lives today, as it is the most popular way to communicate with friends and family. In her article “What is the Real Impact of Social Media?” she explains that “social media is being used in ways that shape politics, business, world culture, education, careers, innovation, and more.”

The 183 NSHS students who said they rely on social media to connect with their friends seem to agree with Gaitho’s statement.

Seventy-seven students claimed that they spent three- to four- hours a day on their social media accounts, around half the time in an average school day.

When asked how important social media was to them, one student replied, “It is quite important as it allows me to connect and communicate with my friends to have casual conversation, exchange information, or just help each other through life. Without it, I feel that I would be out of the know and not know a lot of things that people talk about.”

Thirty-one percent of the students surveyed stated that they use their social media to meet new people, while 86 percent connect with their friends via social media.

While NSHS students may not be much different than their peers elsewhere across the country, there are risks to being reliant on social media for interaction, according to some. Rachel Ehmke, a member of the Child Mind Institute, in her article “How Using Social Media Affects Teenagers,” explained the significant impact communicating through technology can have on developing children. By communicating via technology, it is easier for people to process their thoughts and answers before replying, according to Ehmke. She states, “If kids aren’t getting enough practice relating to people and getting their needs met in person and in real time, many of them will grow up to be adults who are anxious about our species’ primary means of communication – talking.”

The article explains that using technology as the main way of connecting with people can make face-to-face communication for many seem intimidating. A part of the brain that registers reward circuitry becomes very active when teenagers view a large number of likes for their photos.

Another 15 percent of North Smithfield students said that it was very important that others “like” their posts. If these students do not get many likes, about 13 percent said they would remove them.

A UCLA study explains the phenomenon. The study, conducted by the UCLA brain mapping center, concluded that social media has a large influence on our lives since the number of likes a photo has can inspire us to use our social media accounts more often.

While most students use their accounts during the school day, some do realize that they allow social media to occupy too much of their time.

“Overall, social media is not my life,” said one student on the survey. “I have come to realize that the amount of followers you have or the amount of likes you get don’t really affect you in life. I use social media to learn about the news happening in the world and to chat with friends outside of school. However, I do wish I did not spend so much time on it. I am trying not to do that and focus on my schoolwork.”


Our school Committee and Superintendent think it's OK for student to browse social media in class. Phones should be left in lockers or vehicles,not in the classroom. This is a no brainer

When a kid is bullied at school, it follows them on social media. Believe me, I know, cause I've got kids. If a kid is the target of a group of others who bully them, they can't escape it. And don't think the schools will do anything to help the child being bullied. They don't care. Phone use should NOT be allowed in school unless it's an emergency.

I read the two comments concerning this article and then began to think of all the work students are to do on computers. Student are ask to check for homework on the parent portal. Their grades are on parent portal. Their communication with teachers and parents are via electronic media. Students are allowed to use cell phones at lunch and all free time they have while in school. So I am not shocked that students have learned to use electronic devices to communicate between friends and school. In fact there are no printed report cards or progress reports sent to parents. So the school has allowed students to rely on social media to obtain the information they need to succeed in school. There is very little face to face time between students and their friends. That is a shame.