Whether it is your flatmates’ group chat, your summer holiday snaps on Instagram or the circulation of those Sociology lecture notes, every students’ experience of university has been impacted in one way or another by social media. There are of course undeniable advantages to these social media platforms; the ability to connect with old school friends, alongside it being an indispensable tool when needing to organise an event or a small dinner party are obviously incredibly useful.
Though it may facilitate fun for students, social media can also create an unspoken pressure. This pressure derives from the feeling that one needs to maintain a fun, successful persona online with the outcome being an exacerbation of the feeling of loneliness. One begins comparing themselves to others, without the realisation that they too are projecting a false image. This comparison may extend further to the comparison of themselves to completely unrealistic figures, such as social media celebrities who are paid to portray a false life.
With the Prince’s Trust eBay Youth Index finding that 60 per cent of young people said that they believed that they were under strain due to sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the influence that social media has on people’s university experience is undeniable. As a university student, one has the constant feeling that they must be sociable every free minute of the day, leading to and a lack of time for themselves. When not physically socialising, students are glued to their phones which in turn leads to a lack of sleep and the loss of socialising skills.
The New York Behavioural Health found that children are becoming increasingly oblivious to facial emotions due to the lack of face-to-face communication as a result of social media. This prevalence of social media unquestionably leads to an increase of mental health issues, with social anxiety being dominant.
However, organisations such as societies or sports teams may be able to prevent themselves from predominately revolving around social media, allowing people to take a break from their screens. Rather than carrying out discussions on social platforms such as Facebook, societies should rather meet in person with the use of phones being banned.
This creates the ability for a more balanced discussion, with those too shy to comment on a social platform actually doing so in person. Through holding physical meetings, people are pushed to socially interact and formulate arguments on the spot rather than in the safety of their flat with time to ponder on the matter.
There is extensive evidence linking physical activity with heightened mental health and wellbeing. Sports teams should use practice hours to allow people to take a break from social media, with students placing full attention on themselves rather than the formulated projection of themselves, therefore allowing for the full benefits of physical activity.
Alongside the attempt to reduce the use of social media, societies and sports teams should try to develop a culture of awareness of social media and thus prevent its use where it is necessary.
The complete removal of social media from university students’ lives is impossible due to it being deeply embedded. However, a reduction of one’s dependency is arguably much needed.
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