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CRISCIONE: Social media should be used with precaution, can cause mental harm

Column: The Digital Downfall

When thinking about social media, college students do not come to mind often.

Students struggle on a day-to-day basis with mental health. Whether it be anxiety, overthinking or depression, students struggle, and it is real. With college being such an open time and a place to really enjoy yourself, what could be taxing to one's mental health? 

Then the realization comes in that students need to balance work, school and social life just to enjoy themselves. This is one of the most difficult balances for anyone to do. The result in this tends to impact our physical and mental health on a daily basis. 

To add to all of this, students have become easily distracted and able to step out of the world and its difficulties. More specifically, social media has become that distraction. It is easy to get lost in scrolling through Instagram, Reddit or Facebook, but what actually happens to us as we do this while trying to balance such a tough lifestyle?

Well, since everything is online now, and we can find and do most of our work online, students have become dependent on it. It has allowed us to be more connected and involved than ever, but it also makes us less involved and connected with ourselves.

The most common issue for more than 80% of students is the feeling of being overwhelmed. Excessive use of social media tends to create a larger sense of isolation, and impairs social interactions. With this excessive use, a tug of war takes place between the real world and the virtual world. 

Basically, creating a completely separate life for many students on top of all the other work to balance. Sometimes this virtual life takes over and becomes a top priority. 

This can create a fake image for oneself and create more anxiety and even image issues. When things do not pan out correctly online, it could impact the way a person feels on an emotional level. Oftentimes, students do not even realize how far gone they are when using social media.

With all of these rising issues comes the outcome, and that is the comparison that people tend to have between themselves and celebrities showing off on social media. This is one of the largest issues since it really delves deep into one's life and even questions what they have done. 

Also, with the added fact of feeling insignificant and not good enough, we develop an impression or a view of what the good life is. In reality, these people tend to post the best times and most positive parts of life and leave out all the hardships, which make people believe that their life is less than perfect. 

When times get tough, it is easy to turn to things that can take someone's mind off it, and this develops a coping mechanism. We see that when students get stressed or feel anxious, they tend to take to social media to speak about it. That is positive, but at some point, it becomes the only outlet for people. 

In reality, fixing the situation in the real world or seeking real help is the solution.

How this impacts academics is often questioned since it can impact students' grades negatively or have them stay the same since everyone is different. Some even do better with all of the options available online. Usually, though, students tend to procrastinate more often than not or just get distracted from a text or a number of things. 

Ask some classmates their thoughts on how social media has impacted their college life, and most give the same response. They are more likely to compare themselves with others and question what is going on in their lives at the moment. When it comes to academics, that is where it varies. 

One student said, “I delete all of my social media apps on my phone during finals just so I do not  get distracted, but the temptation is still there.” While another student said, “My grades dropped a bit my first year or two of school since I was more engaged in what was going on in other people's lives on campus rather than my own.”

Social media is one of the greatest tools that we have, and it comes with both positives and negatives. It is almost impossible for college students to avoid social media, but learning the dangers of it can help with mental health. 

Knowing what it can do can also make for better decision making in the future.

Alexander Criscione is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies. His column, “The Digital Downfall,” runs on alternate Thursdays.


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