With social media being such a prevalent force in the lives of today’s youth, it is easy to acknowledge that there is an effect on the lives of those who use it frequently. Throughout the increase of social media use it is hard to determine whether or not the impact has been positive or negative. The main social media sites that are being utilized most frequently among college students in the United States are Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. Now, social media can benefit those who use it as a means to stay in contact with friends and family, and as a way to remain up-to-date on the lives of those they care about. However, the lines between beneficial and detrimental begin to blur because people are losing their ability to moderate the amount of time they dedicate to social media. Social media is seen in a different light by many and it is important to understand the different perspectives others have.
While the effects of social media can clearly be seen by fellow students, what about the professors who teach these students? I spoke with Professor Mejias a professor who teaches Social Networks & the Web and he thinks that social media is one of the main contributing factors as to why students are so distracted. He says that from his experience while teaching social media has become a distraction not only on campus but in class. Students are often checking their phones and prioritizing what someone said on Facebook over the information being taught in class. Professor Mejias says that he believes that social media is changing the way students are learning now with students expecting information to come to them quickly and precisely versus opening up a book and taking the time to find the information. With that all being said he doesn’t think it’s all terrible. He can appreciate the fact that students now have an unimaginable amount of information at their fingertips and while they may not always utilize its full potential, it is definitely an advantage.
Another point of view I was able to collect was from a student on SUNY Oswego’s campus named Jonathan Arcese. Arcese is a senior who is on the Student Association Programming Board. He has a lot of engagement with a large number of students on campus because of his campus involvement so he understands the impact that social media has on the students. He sees social media as a beneficial tool because of the ability to advertise to a large number of people. As someone who’s organization is responsible for reaching large numbers of people, social media is one of the best ways to do so. It’s a useful means of promoting content and spreading the word very quickly. It is also a convenient way of staying informed on what is going on in other organizations on campus.
Social media is a world of its own; the countless number of pictures can be very distracting, and students can lose track of time and important deadlines. These distractions can contribute to procrastination which could then add to the overall stress and anxiety students are already feeling. It is also extremely important to remember that every picture, post, tweet and snap that is published online becomes public and can be viewed by everyone. This can harm a student’s reputation as individuals who personally do not know the student can make judgements based on the image they portray over social media. Future employers also have access to these posts which can influence their decision on who to hire and not hire. People tend to think that once something is deleted it’s gone for good but in actuality it is still accessible and what you post can affect you for years to come.
The impact that social media has on youth in college does not just affect their academics but their actual social life as well. According to research that is being conducted, social media is affecting the way youth look at friendship and intimacy. Patricia Greenfield, a developmental psychologist at UCLA says that young adults’ ideas of friendship have been greatly persuaded by their involvement with social media. She goes on to say that young people feel socially supported by having large networks of friends and followers online. This results in a decline in real, concrete, intimate friendships. Instead, many young people now derive personal support and verification from the likes and feedback they get on their posts. This can have a vast decrease on their self-esteem and their self-image.
The most important thing to remember in regard to social media and college life is that social media is not inherently evil. It is not designed to destroy the people who use it, so it is imperative to utilize social media in moderation and practice self-control. Time management is a vital skill to have, especially while in college and social media can be a tool to help learn this skill. Too much of anything is not good, so balance is key.