Along with many other students going through high school, sophomore Bailey Padgett experiences stress throughout the week. In contrast to those same students, Padgett finds an unique way to manage this stress: blogging.
“I have a blog on Tumblr, and it is a site where people can basically blog pictures, stories and quotes that relate to what they are feeling on that day and their mood,” Padgett said. “I personally use it to express my feelings and occasionally relieve stress.”
Padgett is not alone. According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, a group of 161 students who admitted to being socially anxious were tested by dividing the group into those who would blog for 10 weeks and those who would not. After the 10-week period, the study showed that the group of bloggers expressed positive feelings in comparison to the group that did not blog.
Psychology teacher Peter O’Hara said, “There’s a lot of social stress involved with students’ lives. Here in Carmel, there is a difference in social stress as compared to other schools in academics and sports. Since the whole school excels in those, students are pressured to succeed in the two by both parents and peers.”
While he realizes the amount of stress that students can experience in high school, O’Hara said blogging may have both positive and negative effects on a person’s mentality.
“I could see some positive effects of blogging through my daughter and granddaughter,” O’Hara said. “They blog and it not only increases their awareness of technology, but also allows them to communicate easily with each other.”
Like O’Hara, Padgett said she views blogging as beneficial; however, she said she also agrees that blogging can have a negative side.
“I use blogging as a creative outlet and to keep up with the world around me,” Padgett said. “It can be both a source of entertainment and a social tool. Tumblr in specific allows me to connect with people around the world, allowing me to meet different kinds of people while also keeping up with friends at school. Overall, it helps me relax and reduce stress. But I think the extent to which blogging negatively affects you depends on how often you use it. Don’t make it your life.”
Although he said he believes blogging can have some positive effects, O’Hara said he does not see the benefit of blogs themselves. He also said the increased implementation of social media allows for a new way to talk with other people, and, relative to the past, may create new opportunities for students to express their feelings and release stress.
“Venting, whether you do it through social media or on a person-to-person basis, is always going to be a way to release stress,” O’Hara said. “Social media can be a good way to vent and get stress out if you have certain pressures from life.”
Padgett said she agreed with O’Hara, saying that she uses blogging to relieve her stress and express her feelings when she feels the need.
“Many of the times when I’m stressed, I usually go to my friends first,” Padgett said. “If they can’t quite understand what I’m saying, or I can’t relate to them, I go to my blog. It’s easier for me to understand myself, and I think it is good for me to look back through my older posts and problems in the past and look at how I solved them to see how it could help in the future.”
Not only can blogs be used for relieving social stress but also for other creative outputs. For example, senior Lauren “Lo” Odom said she maintains a blog at www.losnewadventures.blogspot.com. Odom, who said she started blogging to do something productive with her spare time, uses the blog as a creative outlet for crafts or baking projects.
“I decided as of 2012 that I wanted to do something new, so I decided that I would do a new craft or baking project every week and blog and give instructions on how I do it. Getting to know how to do different things and crafts is fun because most of my room is full of things I’ve made or built,”
Like Odom, Padgett said she also finds other uses for her blog besides a social media tool.
Padgett said, “I get on around three times a week for Tumblr. The main reason I actually got into blogging was because a friend referred it to me and one day I just created an account and started following people. I liked the pictures they posted, and my blog ended up becoming a source of entertainment for me as well as a social tool.”
Odom said she finds her blog has a positive effect on her life because of its potential use as a learning tool.
“I am definitely learning new things and preparing for my future, because when I’m in college I’m going to have to learn how to cook food,” she said. “It is also good that I’m learning on my own; I’m teaching myself useful things, and I think that is a personal character builder.”
Although O’Hara acknowledges the benefits of blogs, he said that social media tools like blogs and the Internet itself can also have a negative effect.
“Blogging can sometimes add stress because whatever you put out there is out there forever, and anyone can see it,” O’Hara said.
According to Padgett, she does not make her blog very public to people because she considers her blog to be private. However, Padgett said she does appreciate when people read her blog.
“I don’t really like all the people I know reading my private thoughts, but I am not really as bothered as much by people around the world because it’s nice to know that people are listening to what I have to say,” Padgett said.
In light of the study, O’Hara said he believes students need some kind of outlet in order to release their stress such as blogs.
“There was stress in high schools even before the introduction of things like blogs. There are both positive and negative effects from blogs, but what I do know is that (high school) is a tough time because students grow and learn about the world, which creates an enormous amount of stress on students,” O’Hara said. “My advice is for (students) to learn, embrace high school, find out new things, challenge themselves and grow as a person.”
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