Social Media and Its Detrimental Impact on College Going Students

Social Media and Its Detrimental Impact on College Going Students

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Social media Impact on Students

In today’s era of globalization, social media has become an essential part of our lives, playing a significant role in connecting us to the world. The primary reason people use social media is to stay in touch with friends and family. However, its uses extend far beyond that: it serves as a source of entertainment in our spare time, a platform to learn new skills, read books, discover content, stay updated with current events, shop, watch movies, live streams, and share opinions, all while forging new connections.

People of all age groups utilize social media, making life more convenient. However, it’s crucial to promote mindful use of these platforms. Teens, in particular, find social media attractive as it aligns well with their developmental needs, such as forming friendships, creating personal identities, learning new skills, and building networks for personal and professional growth. Its heaviest usage can be seen among those aged 15-30, particularly among college-going students. The manner in which students use social media and the amount of time they spend on it determines its impact on them. Despite the numerous benefits of social media, its potential drawbacks have become increasingly evident over the past few years. Students who have not yet reached a certain level of maturity may use social media without considering these risks, which can negatively impact them.

What are the detrimental impacts social media has on college-going students?

Physical health:

Excessive use of social media can lead to various health problems. Prolonged screen time can result in digital eye strain and poor eyesight. Spending hours sitting and scrolling through social media decreases physical activity, leading to serious disorders such as obesity, thyroid issues, diabetes, indigestion, and reduced muscle strength.

Continually sitting in the same position can result in poor body posture and cause back and neck pain. According to a survey, 74.7% of social media usage occurs before bed, and studies show that 90% of young adults aged 18-25 experience reduced quality of sleep due to social media use at bedtime. Poor sleep is strongly associated with mental health issues.

Mental health:

Insufficient sleep can lead to various mental health issues. Furthermore, there are numerous mental health problems among college students. Studies indicate that 27% of teens who frequently use social media exhibit high physiological stress. They are more likely to develop mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and jealousy. Feedback or comments on social media can induce anxiety and cause anger issues.

Increased use of social media can also lead to inappropriate emotional engagement. For example, feeling upset due to being unable to log in. Frequently scrolling through others’ posts can trigger feelings of jealousy, which further leads to low self-esteem, lack of confidence, poor performance, and decreased life satisfaction.

According to studies, teens (14-17 years old) who use social media for over seven hours per day are more likely to develop depression and seek professional mental health assistance and medication compared to those who only spend an hour. Mental health is important for the holistic development of life. College students, being in a very productive, emerging, and hopeful phase of their life, should nurture their mental health..

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Social health:

Today’s college-going generation seems to be living more in the virtual world than in reality. There’s a reduced connection with the real world. Social media often present unrealistic portrayals of other people’s lives, leading students to set unrealistic goals, neglecting their own skill sets and potentials.

These misrepresentations can lead to constant comparison, damaging students’ self-perception. Constant exposure to glamorous images of social media celebrities can cause students to feel stressed about their own body image. Also, the online space is riddled with fraud and scams. Students are vulnerable to money scams, fake friend requests, dangerous downloads, data leaks, and hacking. Confidential and personal information like photos, addresses, bank details, personal event details, and videos can be misused if not properly secured.

Another severe hazard is the risk of online bullying. Being subjected to bullying and suffering from low self-esteem can sometimes lead to suicidal tendencies. Recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that the rate of suicide has increased by 30%, coinciding with a similar increase in social media usage. This correlation is often associated with the type of content students engage with online.

Professional health:

Excessive time spent on social media, watching others’ lives, can cause students to become less self-aware. They are more likely to set unrealistic expectations for their lives, without considering their own interests and capabilities. This situation limits their potential and increases their likelihood of experiencing failure. Social media can distract students from focusing on their studies, projects, extracurricular activities, and developing necessary soft and hard skills. 

This environment also restricts them from taking risks, experimenting, trying out skills, and learning from their failures. Uncontrolled and excessive use of social media can leave some students aimless in their lives. Teens who spend a lot of time scrolling through social media and watching short video clips are losing their communication skills, which are crucial in the current and future professional settings.

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What measures can students take to limit social media use and reduce its negative impact?

To limit social media use and its detrimental effects, students can take several steps:

  • Mindfulness: Be aware of your social media habits. Ask yourself questions such as: How much time and when do I use social media? What type of content do I consume? Is it aiding my growth, or is it causing harm in any way? What is my purpose behind using it? How do I feel after using it?
  • Time Management: Set a time limit for your social media use. Start by reducing your usage by 15 minutes daily. Gradually, you can increase this time limit as you get comfortable with reduced usage.
  • Know When to Stop: Be aware of when it’s time to stop scrolling. Setting tasks to complete after using social media can motivate you to stop scrolling and start doing something productive.
  • Connect with the Physical World: Try to connect more with the physical world around you. Engage in your hobbies, spend time with friends, visit new places, and participate in events. These activities can provide a sense of belonging and help balance your online and offline lives.
  • Be Selective: If any platform or account triggers negative emotions, it’s time to unfollow it. Stay aware of your emotional responses to content, and focus on setting real-world goals that motivate you.

It’s crucial for students to reflect on their social media usage and its potential harm. These platforms are designed to simplify human life, so using them wisely is essential. Leverage them for online learning, exploring interests, forming positive connections, enhancing creativity, boosting academic performance, and overall well-being. A mindful and balanced approach to social media can indeed be a boon for college students, enhancing their lives significantly.

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