Some might say that Sabrina Henige is not getting as much out of smartphone ownership as she could. Henige, a student at Glenwood Middle School, is quite happy to text friends and to have phone conversations, but you won’t find her posting photos to Instagram or checking to see if a casual comment has gained any “likes.” She finds herself in the minority when it comes to social media usage by fellow teens.
Sabrina turned 13 last July, and could now be active on social media according to the rules set by her parents, Nick and Tiffany Henige. But, she has yet to create a public profile for any online site.0 and has also benefited from her parents’ acknowledgement of negative experiences a sibling faced socializing via the internet.
Henige prefers to use her free time to learn new things by taking lessons, participating in after-school education programs and exploring interests which include Spanish, guitar playing, robotics, attending Campus Life and taking some advanced study courses.
Sabrina wants to be clear, “I don’t use social media, but I have nothing against it. I think social media can be wonderful…it’s like another culture that’s embedded into our current one, and it’s an amazing way to communicate. It’s always there and a resource people shouldn’t ignore. It can be amazing, you just have to make sure the relationship you have with it is positive…that you’re not addicted and you aren’t hurting people.”
Those in her closest friendship circle are light users of social media and she hasn’t suffered from what some have termed “FOMO,” the fear of missing out. “They’re living their lives and I’m living my life.” Henige doesn’t feel that she needs to share her life events constantly via the internet.
No need to be center stage
A 2018 Pew Research Center survey of 743 young people reported that sharing their life online can come with added social burdens: Around four-in-ten say they feel pressure to only post content on social media that makes them look good to others (43%), or share things that will get a lot of likes or comments (37%).
In light of the survey, Sabrina’s observations are incredibly insightful. “When it comes to social media, is it not all just performing? You’re constantly performing and to do that it has to be difficult to be addicted to that and then to be expected to (always show a bright side), I feel like it would be a lot! I want to live without an audience.”