Social Media Addiction in Teenagers By: Emily Mohs

Teenagers in American society are facing major life issues regarding social media. Many concerns first arise when a child obtains a phone, and last throughout most of that adolescent’s life.  A teen may face several challenges when accessing a social media account, including low self-esteem, diverse confidence levels, and varied anxiety levels. Some of the sites many teenagers encounter when getting a phone include Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, etc. The Pew Research Center found that 73% of teenagers between the ages of thirteen and seventeen own smartphones and social media accounts. There are many negative and positive effects that can arise from having a social media account as a teenager.

The history of social media is a considerably less prominent subject than when many adults and parents of children with social media accounts were young. The first media site was not up and running until the early 2000’s. Christy Schutte, a specialist in social media explains, “Social media has grown over the past decade and has become an integral way of communicating for social reasons as well as for news and in marketing.” Several older aged people did not have to go through many of the negative effects social media now has on this generation of teens. It is important that many parents recognize that the world of social media may be destroying much of their child’s life. Many of the apps downloaded propose an immense threat for cyberbullying and safety concerns. A great deal of parents do not know that many of the apps show the exact location and address of that individual. Also, many social media account holders have their profiles on public, meaning anyone can witness what they post. There is also an issue with teens not being aware that when they post something, it is on social media forever. This leads numerous people to posting inappropriate pictures that may seem cool at the time, but eventually leads them into dreadful consequences. Christy Schutte implies, “Downfalls include that it takes you away from socializing with people that are actually right around you and also what you put on social media is forever!” It is important for parents to understand what their child is posting on social media, so when their child does get into a bind, they are able to provide support and advice.

Countless numbers of teens are facing severe penalties from owning a social media account. Many struggle with low self-confidence, anxiety, and a feeling of constant comparison of appearance to others. Tricia Woelfel, a mother of three teens asserts, “It is vital to keep social media apart of society, but there needs to be stricter rules regarding its influence on teenagers.” After posting a picture, many teens are continuously checking to see how many likes or comments they get. In that moment, that is the most important thing to them, and if something goes wrong in their eyes it can crash their entire world. Several teens also face the anxiety of not fitting in or being accepted through social media. Feeling of perfectionism can arise making more illnesses like depression and obsessive compulsive disorder common. Fear of missing out on events are also common in a teenager’s social media life. When opening social media accounts and seeing that all your friends are hanging out without you can be a toll on a teenager’s life and can make them upset. It is proven that if an individual owns a social media account they have or eventually will face one of these problems. It is time for society to put an end to the nonsense of comparing each other.

The University of Chicago has proven that social media is more addicting for teens then a cigarette is for a smoker. Many teens are more worried about cigarettes and alcohol because they can eventually cause cancer and severe illnesses. When joining a social media site, teens realize that there is no physical abuse, but they do not understand the mental hardships that come with it. It is important that parents are aware what their children are doing on the web. Social media is mainly there to remind and update people on things that are happening in other’s lives. Teenagers need to realize that a social media account is not what defines an individual as a person. Social media does have many great qualities, but also major downfalls that many teenagers do not recognize.

Works Cited “Why Social Media Causes Anxiety.”, 4 Sept. 2016,

Schutte, Christy. Personal Interview. 19 November 2017.

Steyer, Carly. “8 Fascinating Facts About How Teens Use The Internet And Social Media.” The Huffington Post,, 20 July 2015,

Thier, Dave. “Facebook More Addictive Than Cigarettes, Study Says.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 3 Feb. 2012,

Woelfel, Tricia. Personal Interview. 17 November 2017.

Why Have Mass Shootings Become the New Normal? By Moira Metz

In 2017, two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history happened within two months of each other—the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting and the Southerland Springs, Texas First Baptist Church shooting. Five of the worst mass shootings, in terms of casualty—ranking 1st, 2nd, a tie for 4th, and 8th—all happened within the past five years. With these statistics ever worsening, it’s not hard to see that the United States has an appallingly significant problem with mass shootings. The question is this: why have mass shootings become the new normal?

Let’s start with the technical first mass shooting in modern U.S. history—Howard Unruh’s “Walk of Death” in Camden, New Jersey. On September 6th, 1949, Unruh killed thirteen people and injured three others with an easily obtained Luger P08 9mm pistol. Living as a gay man in a socially and legally unaccepting mid-20th century America, Unruh had been ridiculed and prejudiced against. A World War II veteran with issues of isolation and rigid temperament, this frustration provoked Unruh, and as Patrick Sauer put it in the Smithsonian article about Unruh’s rampage, “Unruh thought the world was out to get him, so he decided to enact revenge on his little corner of it.”

What does this technical first mass shooting have to do with the current regularity of mass shootings in America? It provides an outline for us: Each characteristic of Unruh’s “Walk of Death” connects to some problem that contributes to the frequentness of mass shootings.

The ability to obtain guns is one major reason why mass shootings have become so constant. As said by true crime author Harold Schechter in the Smithsonian “Walk of Death” article, “There have been notorious killers since America was founded, but you didn’t have the mass shooting phenomenon before Unruh’s time because people didn’t have access to semi-automatic weaponry.” Semiautomatic weapons have been easily obtainable in modern times, and despite some legislation to make it more difficult for these guns to fall into the wrong hands, there likely hasn’t been quite enough. According to Kate Taylor of Business Insider, it is still fairly easy to buy a gun in most states despite some attempts at stricter regulation: “Gun laws vary significantly based on the state. Nine states, including California and Rhode Island, impose waiting periods for the purchase of some or all firearms,” but in almost all other states, such as in Virginia, buying a gun is much quicker.  Taylor explains:

In Virginia, you can buy a semi-automatic gun ‘in 15 minutes,” Roanoke Firearms owner John Markell recently told the New York Times’ Michael Barbaro. Roanoke Firearms is where Seung-Hui Cho — who killed 32 in a shooting spree on Virginia Tech’s campus — bought a Glock, after passing two background checks and employees’ own gut checks.

And, although a waiting period in gun purchases sometimes keeps guns from falling into the wrong hands, there’s no guarantee that this will affect any potential future violent incidents. Republican Senator of Wisconsin Van Wanggaard claims that “There is no statistical evidence that [the waiting period] reduces violence” (Kertscher).

The ability for firearms to be bought quickly is just one flaw in the gun regulation system. Another flaw is the continuing lack of proper background checks and other requirements. The “gun show loophole” is a major problem; this allows guns to be easily purchased and sold at gun shows, for three reasons, according to

  1. Not all gun sellers are required to be licensed, and many of these unlicensed sellers sell at gun shows.
  2. Most gun purchases at gun shows do always not require background checks.
  3. There is usually no waiting period for gun purchases at gun shows, allowing guns to be bought without proper licensing and permit.

These issues also apply outside of gun shows—even after mass shootings have become so common, many states do not utilize some basic requirements such as background checks. While many believe that this “gun show loophole” is rarely connected to mass shootings, it does factor into the easy accessibility of guns and thus links to mass shootings’ frequentness.

Another factor in the mass shootings crisis is the temperament of the mass shooters themselves, but many believe that the problem is simply mental illness. Though “Walk of Death” shooter Howard Unruh was honorably discharged from the military after WWII without a diagnosis or records of mental instability, psychologists today have confirmed that Unruh could have had schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression; moreover, that he definitely had issues with temperament ( However, according to a study authored by Jonathan M. Metzl, MD, PhD. and Kenneth T. MacLeish, PhD., “fewer than 5% of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness” (National Center for Biotechnology Information). Many who believe that the motives for mass shootings most often link to mental illness call for better mental health care, but Dr. Michelle Heyland of The Hill declares that this is not the answer, even though mental health care would indeed help many Americans besides the fact:

While improving access to mental-health care might help lots of suffering Americans, researchers who study mass shootings doubt it would do much to curb tragedies like these. According to their work, the sorts of individuals who commit mass murder often are either not mentally ill or do not recognize themselves as such. Because they blame the outside world for their problems, mass murderers would likely resist therapies that ask them to look inside themselves or to change their behavior. (Heyland)

Mental illness has often been thought to be a major problem in mass shootings, but it seems to be that the problem is more about shooters’ temperament and general attitude toward the world around them. Instead of blaming mental illness for mass shootings, it’s possible that we can look to political and moral rhetoric that has turned inflammatory in recent years as a reason for many recent mass shootings. Howard Unruh was not only the instigator of violence and hatred—he was a victim of prejudice and homophobia, which caused him to want to bring his pain to other people, a hundred times over. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia have been the subjects of great debate in America for decades, but as of the past few years, especially surrounding the 2016 Presidential Election, the conversation about these problems has expanded and grown louder. It’s no mystery that the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting in June 2015 was motivated by racism and bigotry—the mass shooter, Dylann Roof, was a known white supremacist, and the victims of his violence were all African-American. The massacre at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida was declared a hate-crime against the LGBTQ+ attendees at the club that night, showing another example of the pure hatred that usually motivates mass shootings. Maybe mental illness isn’t always the motivator behind mass shootings. Maybe Americans simply need to go after the growing hatred and prejudice of their country and defeat it once and for all.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact, overall reasons why mass gun violence has become so common in America. However, it’s easy to see why Americans have made it the “new normal”: we’re so used to it. The more shootings that occur, and the more the casualty numbers go up, the more immune we become to the grief and frustration that come with it all. We, as a country, need to remain angry and shocked and allow our hearts to continue to ache in order to motivate ourselves to make change, to do something to end these ever-repeating tragedies.

















Work Cited

“Gun Rights vs. Gun Control.” OpenSecrets, The Center for Responsive Politics, Oct. 2017,

“More than 50 Years of U.S. Mass Shootings: The Victims, Sites, Killers and Weapons.” The Washington Post, WP Company, Oct. 2017,

Heyland, Dr. Michelle. “After Mass Shootings, Mental Illness Is Always the Scapegoat.” TheHill, Capitol Hill Publishing Corporation, 3 Oct. 2017,

Kertscher, Tom. “No Statistical Evidence That a Waiting Period for Handgun Purchases Reduces Violence, Lawmaker Says.”, Politifact, 27 Apr. 2015,

Khazan, Olga. “Why Better Mental-Health Care Won’t Stop Mass Shootings.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 4 Oct. 2017,

Metzl, Jonathan M, and Kenneth T MacLeish. “Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, Feb. 2015, , Tampa Bay Times; Politifact, 27 Apr. 2015,

“The 10 Worst Mass Shootings in the U.S. .” New York, New York Post,

Sauer, Patrick. “The Story of the First Mass Murder in U.S. History.”, Smithsonian Institution, 14 Oct. 2015,

Sherman, Amy. “PolitiFact Sheet: 3 Things to Know about the ‘Gun Show Loophole’.”, Tampa Bay Times; Politifact, 7 Jan. 2016,

Taylor, Kate. “Here’s How Easy It Is to Legally Buy a Semiautomatic Gun.”, Business Insider Inc. , 7 Oct. 2017,


Needle Exchange Programs By: Sherilyn Drexler

As the opiate epidemic in the United States grows larger and larger, the commonality of blood-borne illnesses is also growing at an alarming rate. Through the practices of reusing and sharing needles and other injection devices, addicts are at high risk of illnesses. These illnesses include HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B, all which can have lasting effects on health, and even death, if left untreated. Needle exchange programs, when effective, are beneficial to addicts in that they prevent the spread of disease through needles, as well as provide other resources for support in managing and ultimately overcoming the addiction.

Needle exchange programs provide addicts with the access to sterile needles and syringes, where otherwise they would potentially be using old or unclean ones, or sharing used needles between other users. Both of these common practices carry high risk of spreading disease, and having affordable access to sterile needles reduces the transmission of HIV and other blood borne illnesses. This affordable access provided by needle exchange programs is extremely important an addict’s health during and after addiction. Needle exchange programs may set up in clinics or other areas during different times of the week. And for those who are not able to reach those facilities, facilitators of the program may drive around heroin-prevalent areas in a van or RV, handing out supplies and resources. Alex Drexler, a former heroin user who utilized needle exchange programs, says that this service was beneficial to him during the time he was using heroin. Drexler explains that people who use the program “bring used needles and get the same amount of fresh needles…they also offer clean instruments to use and cook, and it’s a great public health service to prevent the spread of disease”.

Needle exchange programs often do more for addicts than just exchange needles. Aaron Head, Director of New Foundations, a halfway house organization in in Cincinnati, states that “In Cincinnati, they have a mobile home they drive around in in order to reach people in the area that may need assistance”. Head also makes a point that this is not the only service they provide, “They practice harm reduction, trying to keep down the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV down, and also give people resources for recovery and various other things”. These additional resources are important because they teach an addict how to prevent infection in the first place, as well as aiding them with help and means for getting off drugs. With all that these programs do to help combat the opiate epidemic, there is unfortunately very little federal funding given to these programs, in part due to the stigmas attached to them on the surface level.

Common arguments against needle exchange programs center around they notion that they enable the drug user by providing them with accessible tools to use these drugs causing them harm. The reality is that this notion is not backed up by the evidence. Multiple studies have proved that needle exchange programs generally reduced the spread of HIV without increasing drug use. The most notable of these occurred in 2016, where the CDC reviewed 15 studies over decades of research, concluding that the programs were in fact beneficial towards a decrease in blood-borne illnesses, and drug use didn’t necessarily increase or decrease in direct relation to them (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

Needle exchange programs are an extremely beneficial resource to communities affected by heroin addiction and the blood-borne illnesses like Hepatitis C and HIV, that are commonly associated with drug users who often are forced to share needles in order to inject. Allowing more implementation of these programs and federal funding to do so will ensure that these programs are able to be put into place and will become more common mainly in cities that are most affected by it. This way addicts will be able to stay free of disease while trying to get clean, have access to the resources to be able to do so, and will be able to be healthy in life after addiction.

Works Cited

“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Apr. 2017,

Head, Aaron. Personal Interview. 12 November 2017.

Drexler, Alex. Personal Interview. 15 November 2017.