The Influence of Social Media on College Students

an iPad with apps on the screen

In the age of digital connectivity, social media has become ingrained in the lives of many college students. From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and TikTok, these platforms have revolutionized communication, information sharing, and self-expression. However, the influence of social media on college students is a complex and multifaceted issue. It can have both positive and negative implications for their academic, social, and mental well-being.

Scrolling through social media has become the biggest time waster for college students. If you find yourself struggling and constantly questioning why you don’t have enough time to get things done, it’s time to look at the 10 things college students waste their time doing.

Academic Distractions And Procrastination

Social media’s constant stream of notifications, updates, and captivating content be a significant distraction for college students. Its carefully crafted design to evoke constant engagement ensnares users in an endless pursuit of new stimuli, diverting their attention from academic endeavors. This relentless pursuit of social media gratification fosters procrastination and diminishes concentration, hindering students’ ability to immerse themselves in their studies.

As of 2022, the average social media usage worldwide was 147 minutes or 2 hours and 27 minutes per day (Statista). That’s a significant amount of time! Imagine what you can do with that. Consider how much studying and homework you could accomplish with that extra time.

Social media has an addictive nature that can lead to excessive screen time. Excessive screen time disrupts a student’s sleep patterns and contributes to fatigue and reduced cognitive function.

Dr. Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist at Harvard University, says, “Social media is designed to be addictive, and it can have a profound impact on our brains. The constant stimulation can lead to changes in the way we process information and make decisions, and it can even alter our brain chemistry.”

Social Comparison And Anxiety

Social media often presents unrealistic versions of people’s lives. Though many college students are aware that social media users are carefully crafting a portrayal of their lives, that does not eliminate social comparison among college students. Social comparison negatively impacts college students’ self-perception, leading to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

The reach of social media can foster cyberbullying and online harassment, causing emotional distress and creating a hostile online environment. The hostile online environment created by cyberbullying and online harassment can erode students’ sense of safety and belonging, hindering their academic and personal growth. Additionally, students may experience persistent emotional distress and anxiety. See Mental Health In Students: A Comprehensive Guide to know the signs and symptoms of mental health concerns and what you can do to help students.

Networking And Career Development

Social media can be a valuable tool for networking and career development. Students can connect with professionals in their field, explore job opportunities, and build their professional brand.

LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that allows professionals and college students to showcase their skillsets, achievements, work, and academic experiences. LinkedIn can be essential for college students who are just getting started in their careers because it lets them connect with individuals in the industry and build a network. See the Complete LinkedIn Workshop for a guide on how to use LinkedIn for college students.

Social media can be a valuable tool for students to enhance their career development and prepare for the professional world. Social media platforms host a wealth of educational content and resources. Students can follow industry experts, join online courses, and participate in webinars to enhance their knowledge and skills in their chosen field.

hand holding phone that have social media on it

Navigating Social Media Responsibly

To maximize the benefits of social media while minimizing its negative impacts, there are a few things college students can do:

Set Time Limits

Make sure you are in control of your time and attention. Evaluate how much time you spend on social media and set time limits for your social media usage. Spend no more than 5 to 10 minutes on social media at a time. This is more than enough time to get caught up on what’s happening.

Set a timer on your phone and once it goes off set your phone down and focus. Focus on an important task that requires your time and attention. This could be working on homework or assignments, studying for a test, or catching up on readings for your classes. You can even generate some income and start a side hustle if you have a few hours free. Check out, What To Do During Your Break Between College Class, to get some ideas.

Use Social Media For Meaningful Connections

Social media isn’t just for mindless scrolling. Prioritize genuine interactions with friends and family, while in college it’s easy to disconnect with important people in your life who live far away or you don’t get to see frequently. Engaging in meaningful conversations and sharing experiences that foster real connections can have many positive impacts.

Evaluate the accounts that you follow or the topics that you search. Unfollow or mute accounts that trigger negative emotions or promote unrealistic expectations. Instead, follow accounts that inspire, motivate, and provide positive content.

Create A Balanced Lifestyle

As a student, your life is demanding and requires careful prioritization. Academic pursuits, extracurricular activities, and personal well-being must take precedence. Social media should serve as an enhancement, not a distraction.

Prioritize disconnecting from devices and engaging in activities that promote emotional and mental well-being. College students often face chronic stress, which can significantly impact their mental health. If social media usage is causing emotional distress or disrupting daily life, consider seeking support from a counselor, therapist, or trusted adult.