The effects of social media and technology on college students

By: Yasmeen Bannourah

Photos: Pixabay

To the millennial generation, technology has become second nature. Technology has grown alongside millennials and they cannot go a day without using some sort of technological device. Social media and technology have proven to be a big aspect of Marymount student life, whether it is to feel socially connected or to use for studies.

Technology has impacted the 21st century in many ways, and has specifically impacted education. Students now have unlimited resources to further educate themselves – library resources, search engines, online education facilities, and more.

Social media websites and applications enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. The most popular forms of social media are Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. These social media platforms have individual logos that are now recognizable worldwide, which demonstrates the power these platforms have.

Instagram and Snapchat are visual based platforms, while Twitter is a word-based platform where people tend to write what they feel in less than 280 characters. Facebook, the platform that started the social media frenzy, is a platform that combines videos, photos, live streams and written posts.

Social media and technology have had both positive and negative impacts. According to a Washington Post article in 2015, students tend to spend an average of eight hours a day consuming media – whether it’s surfing the Internet, checking emails, or spending time on social media networks.

“On average I probably spend about 5 hours a day on my various social media accounts,” senior Julianna Carfaro said.  “I rely on my phone to wake me up in the morning and tell me the weather. If I have a question I can turn to my phone and look up my question to find an answer. I use my phone to read emails and texts, as well as staying on track with all of my schoolwork. These are just a few of the many ways technology is used in my everyday life. ”

“I spend probably around 3 hours a day on social media,” senior Victoria Stadtmueller said. “I find that I am always on it during my downtime, or if I am in a public place by myself. “

Social media and technology have affected Stadtmueller and Carfaro in a more positive way during their college experience. A way social media can better a student’s college experience is through on-campus organization pages where events are shared.

“It helps me stay connected to my peers, as well as on-campus organizations and clubs,” Carfaro said.

“I believe the pros weighed out the cons as far as my experience with social media; it affected me more positively,” Stadtmueller said.  “In a way it allowed me to be inspired by people’s outfits, experiences and travels. I really enjoyed sharing with friends and family my experience in college (abroad, classes, events) through social media. And to be lazy, it allowed me to update everyone without having to text or call people one by one.”

However, social media still has the negatives that one may tend to forget or ignore.

“Positively, it has allowed me to stay in touch with my family members and high school friends that I don’t see on the daily,” freshman Sabrina Koumoin said. “However, social media does more harm than good to me because I’ll tend to compare myself or life to that of others and end up feeling inadequate. I think ultimately this is unfair to myself so I ended up deleting my Snapchat account.”

This explains how simple social networking can mentally impact students in a stressful manner.

The approach students take towards the addiction they have to social media during class, is either putting the phone away or turning on the Do Not Disturb function where all notifications are silenced until the function is turned off.

All three students agreed that the Do Not Disturb function that is now on laptops and phones has been extremely helpful to avoid lack of focus during class time.

“ I definitely feel that social media notifications on my phone and laptop are especially distracting to me; because I feel like I always have to be in the loop, especially with considering group chats,” Stadtmueller said. “I usually try mitigate this by putting my phone/laptop on do not disturb.”

Millenials have also realized that technology is a big topic of discussion that one needs to address or catch up on constantly because the technological world is constantly evolving.

“As a Communication major, technology and social media is a big topic of discussion,” Carfaro said. “We analyze different ways to communicate with a general audience through technology and social media. I think that technology can positively affect a student’s college experience. It is a great way to share and find information.”

Furthermore, there are now topics of study that are all about technology and its advancements. Stadtmueller expressed her own experience and said, “If there wasn’t technology, I’m not too sure what I would be studying as an IT major. In fact, I don’t really think that the major would exist.”

Koumoin said, “As a Computer Science major social media is quite important to me, because I need to stay on top of the latest tech news, and I usually use Twitter for this. I also use social media to advertise myself as a web developer and form connections with prominent people in the tech industry.”

Most importantly, social media would not exist if the world did not have the technology and computer systems that are being used today.

“I could go on and on about how social media shapes Information technology, but just to name some key things; social media entails what IT students study; what programs they learn what types of encryption to use,” Stadtmueller said.  “For example, Instagram is written largely in Python, and as a result the majority of programming classes in the IT education is now in Python. I think this is amazing, because the mass public is not just using social media to find the next platform to post a picture, but it also allows programmers and IT students to take control and learn programming languages and algorithms that suit what the public is using.”

Universities are now using technology to advance in most fields, specifically campus life. On-campus events are now marketed through social media platforms. Student identification scans are the key to their on-campus life.

“My Marymount scan identifies me; it stores my personal data, and allows me to get food, pay bills, get into the gym, just to name a few,” Stadtmueller said.

And to focus on a more educational aspect of technology, the information students can get to through the World Wide Web is very significant.

“I think life as a college student would be very difficult without easy access to technology and information,” Carfaro said. “So much time would be wasted trying to find information in books and journals if we did not have the help of the Internet and databases.”

Technology also seems to be shaping the upcoming generation.

“I think social media and technology defines the upcoming generation,” Stadtmueller said. “Left and right we are replacing bookstores with Wikipedia, surgeons with robots; basically many previous skills that people had are being replaced by technology. And I personally think this is great; because all of the actual “work” is being done with technology, the new generation gets to use this foundation to think exponentially farther and innovate much more rapidly than any previous generation.”

However, this might be scary for the upcoming generation because these jobs are careers and are methods of income to families. This can be considered both a negative and a positive, because robots might take over all industries and humankind would lose job opportunities.  This frenzy depends on how humans react to certain technological advances, and whether it is used to help or take over humankind.

Apple has recently implemented a new feature on all their devices called Screen Time, this allows users to figure out how many hours are actually spent a day using their phone with more detailed reports; what applications are used most.

The feature also allows the user to set limits on certain applications. For example, if a two hour limit is set on Snapchat and the user exceeds the limit—the application is locked for the rest of the day. This feature is a great add on to apple devices, and should be implemented in all similar smart devices.

Technology will help society, but it could also hurt society. Social media can be easily used in a negative manner, but if it is utilized in a controlled manner, there are positive aspects to it.

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