Impact of Social Media on Students

Social media usage among students is rapidly increasing, owing to globalized modes of communication and the post-pandemic rush to employ many social media platforms for education in various disciplines of study. Though social media has given numerous opportunities for sharing thoughts and emotions, the type of social support it provides may fail to suit students’ emotional requirements, or the apparent positive benefits may be fleeting. In recent years, various research has been undertaken to investigate the possible impacts of social media on students’ emotional qualities, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

What does data say?

Data doesn’t present a pretty picture. A study led by researchers from Tel Aviv University, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Bocconi University reveals new findings about the negative impact of Facebook on the mental health of college students. The research went on to report a statistically significant worsening in mental health symptoms, especially depression and anxiety, after the arrival of Facebook to the tune of:

  • An increase of 7% in the number of students who had suffered, at least once during the preceding year, from severe depression.
  • A rise of 20% in anxiety disorders.
  • A rise in the percentage of students who had experienced impairment in their academic performance due to depression or anxiety – from 13% to 16%.

Other studies are as alarming! Not without reason. Students with frequent access to social media are getting excessively emotionally invested in it. So, each time a child puts up a picture on social media, for instance, they are drawing validation from the number of likes or comments the picture has received. Few or no likes can severely affect their self-confidence, especially if they see their peers’ pictures drawing likes.

Additionally, social media is also seen to play a role in cyberbullying with issues such as:

  • Offensive Name Calling.
  • False Rumors.
  • Sharing images without permission.
  • Use of morphed images.
  • Deep fakes.
  • Physical Threats and more.

Importantly, how teens use social media determines its impact. For instance, if they view content that relates to:

  • Unlawful activities.
  • Self-harm.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Body-shaming and more, there is certainly going to be an impact on their psyche. It could even lead them to pick up some bad habits and severely impact their physical and mental health.

Additionally, if they witness hate, discrimination, exclusion, bullying, and more on social media, the impact on their mental health can be disastrous.

Why is the habit of social media hard to break?

Despite the negative impact of social media, which is well-documented, the fact is that it is a habit that is hard to break. This is because social media tends to stimulate the pleasure pathways of our brains. The increase in likes, comments, and more leads to a release of dopamine. What is also important to remember is that overstimulation of dopamine can be tricky since it also has a role to play when it comes to affecting:

– Memory
– Sleep
– Concentration
– Learning and more

Therefore, all of the above can be affected by the excessive use of social media. Students, therefore, may display:

– Poor sleep
– Lack of concentration
– Issues with learning
– Academic challenges and more

All of this is not to say that there are no positive effects whatsoever when it comes to social media.

Some of the positive impacts of social media on students include:

  • It offers a connection with family and friends. In times of the pandemic, for instance, it had a strong role to play in ensuring people were not isolated. Even if students are away from home and their regular surroundings, social media plays a strong role in keeping them connected.
  • It also offers information on several topics. Students can also join groups based on their hobbies and interests.
  • It gives them a platform to share their creativity with the world.

How to mitigate the impact of social media on youth

Given the advantages and disadvantages of social media, the one thing that is necessary is reasonable boundary setting. Clearly, there need to be reasonable limits when it comes to spending time on social media, or else it can very quickly become addictive. Students also need to be encouraged to spend time in the real world. Additionally, parents need to ensure that students are present on social media at an age when they can use it responsibly. Even then, parents need to speak to students and remind them of its responsible usage.

It is important to ensure that students do not link their self-esteem with it on the one hand, while on the other they do not misuse the platform to bully others. Teens, particularly, need to be reminded that what they see on social media isn’t necessarily the whole truth and that they shouldn’t set themselves up against some unreal body standards they may witness on social media.

Additionally, regulators and social media companies themselves need to take responsibility for setting the right standards.

Importantly, students themselves need to be mindful of the following issues:

  • They decide their time on social media and stick to it.
  • Taking regular breaks
  • Ensure that if they witness or see any instances of cyberbullying, they bring it to the attention of a responsible adult.
  • Ensure they speak to their parents and clarify any issues they may have with respect to social media use.

To Sum Up

Clearly, as with most things, the important aspect of social media lies in its optimal use. Given the huge challenges that emanate from excessive social media use, both students and parents need to remain mindful. Students can reap its advantages only when they use social media within reasonable limits and do not confuse the world of social media with the real world.

At Pragyanam, one of the best CBSE schools in Gurgaon with parents keen on school admissions, we are devoted to the holistic development of students. While our students are exposed to technology to use it to their advantage, due care is taken to see that they are offered holistic exposure to different facets to remain well-grounded. In addition, our life skills-based curriculum ensures that they are imbued with the necessary values and life skills, such as empathy, critical thinking, and more, to make the right life decisions.

Here’s to raising a generation that uses technology to its advantage without being enslaved by it.

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May 2024