While people celebrate the fact that vast WiFi networks cover every college campus in America, many are concerned that much of the bandwidth is being hogged by students on Facebook and Twitter. That fact is that nearly every college student uses social media, but the effect this has had on them has been an issue of heated debate. Some argue that Facebook turns students into addicts too glued to their News Feeds to study. Others claim that it's a valuable resource that enriches the college experience. Is social media destroying students, or making their lives better? The answer is not so simple.
While the answer is not simple we can break it up into a few questions to better understand social media’s effects. The first question is “Does it affect student’s grades?” Well, that actually depends on the social media source and how it is used. Studies actually show that classes that use twitter typically have up to half a grade point higher scores. It is also directly tied to students collaborating online with 75% saying that they would engage in online collaboration. But unsurprisingly those that try and study while using Facebook are actually hurting their grades. In fact those that multitask between Facebook and studying have 20% lower grades. What is interesting is that 79% of students surveyed don’t believe this statistic.
The second questions we need to answer is “How will using social media effect your college life experience?” A couple data points yield some insight. One, we know that Facebook users make far less money while in college. Fully 85% of Facebook users worked less than 5hrs a week as compared to the 80% of non-Facebook users that worked over 16hrs a week. Money isn’t everything, but surviving on ramen noodles isn’t the best way to live! However, many people associate the quality of college life to the ways that they were involved with their schools. Studies show that Facebook users are twice as likely to be involved in campus activities. All work and no Facebook, just might make you a dull student. Which brings us to our next topic: Self-Esteem.
The third question we must answer is “What effect does social media have on the emotional health of students?” As it turns out social media really does make people feel connected with a 20% experiencing a feeling of social connectedness among Facebook users, furthermore they were twice as likely to feel “Popular”. But it is also true that 48% of students think they are sadder than their Facebook friends. This wouldn’t be troubling except that we know from other studies that 25% of college students show serious depression in their status updates.
Even after addressing some of the key questions about social media the results are mixed. Hopefully after reading this as a student you will be able to see the pros and cons of spending your hours using social media.