By MIA KOTELEC
With the shelter in place giving rise to widespread reliance on technology, social media has become even more inescapable for a generation already stereotyped for its excessive social media usage.
From Jan. 21 to March 24, average daily traffic on the popular streaming site Twitch.tv rose approximately 20%, while traffic on the app TikTok rose 15%, according to a New York Times analysis of internet usage in the U.S. measured by online data providers SimilarWeb and Apptopia.
Ryan Jalili, an eighth grader at Carmel Middle School, admits he now spends most of his day perusing different apps on his phone.
“Since the quarantine, I have been using my phone practically the entire day,” Jalili says. “Just yesterday I used my phone for 12 hours.”
Unable to physically attend school campuses, the primary social outlet for most face-to-face interactions, most teens are resorting to networking platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok to continue social communication despite physical barriers.
Senior Satchel Sherman has recognized his usage increase during quarantine and reports spending up to six hours a day on social media.
“Compared to before, I am now on social media for countless hours of the day,” Sherman says. “But without it, I would probably be considered insane.”
With a much less hectic schedule, CHS senior and self-proclaimed TikTok aficionado Laura Mastrocola has devoted most of her time to creating humorous videos and picking up the latest dance trends on the app.
“I now spend most of the time I used to spend at school on social media,” says Mastrocola, adding that social media has enabled her to communicate with a larger audience. “My follower count has definitely gone up on mostly everything, and I’ve been trying to talk to more people than before.”
While some seek success and fame through the app, most TikTokers use it purely for the sake of corresponding with friends.
“Whenever I make videos, I usually only get around 30 likes,” Jalili says. “But I’m not really trying to become famous. I just make funny videos for my friends.”
Though school closures and social distancing protocols have made personal interactions and small gestures harder to come by physically, some have utilized social media as a tool to reach out to those who they have not been close with in the past. Snapchatting someone new or dropping a friendly comment on a peer’s post has become the new way of showing someone you care– similar to a wave in the hallway between classes.
For many seniors parting ways in June, the sudden loss of the end of the school year meant a lack of chances to create and develop final relationships before graduation, but with the aid of networking sites, classmates are only a click away, making it easier to engage and formulate new bonds.
Senior Sebastian Hendricks, an avid social media user, TikTok enthusiast and ASB president, has used the quarantine as a chance to interact with his fellow classmates.
“Snapchat is fuel to maintain relationships, Instagram is good for leaving nice messages,” Hendricks says. “I’ve been reaching out to as many people from my class as possible just to say goodbye and appreciate them for something.”