I Am a Twenty Year Old College Student Who Rarely Uses Social Media & I Am Concerned About the Effect of Social Media on Young Adults
Sean Parker, the former president of Facebook, says that the thought process behind creating Facebook was “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” He even goes as far as calling it a “social validation feedback loop.” The entire idea behind social media websites is how to get people to become dependent on the information or validation they get from using this source. Today social media is one of the most heavily relied upon mediums for young adults. They don’t just use it to keep in touch with friends. They use it as a place to post what they did, see what their friends did, watch the newest viral videos, follow celebrities, and much more. This has become such a norm with teens today that they don’t exchange phone numbers or emails but look each other up online and friend them.
So why am I a twenty year old college student who does not have anything but a Facebook page that I never use?
You can ask my friends and they will tell you that I am never on it.
Why Am I Different
For a long time I believed that the reason I never seemed interested in Facebook or Snapchat was because we didn’t have cell service at my house. However in the past two years on campus, I found that isn’t the case. I could have used it at home because we had wi-fi and I had a laptop as well as an iPad. Now that I live on a college campus with cell service and wi-fi in every building, my habits still have not changed.
One reason for this is my family environment. My family always had something going on out in the living room or kitchen. I would be wherever the action was in my house, whether that was with my dad, mom, sister, or brothers. Even today when I am home from college, I find that most days I leave my phone or iPad in my room and don’t get back to my friends for days.
Our family environment is so different from any other home I’ve been in. While in most families everyone retreats into their rooms, we are normally together, getting along and having fun. Don’t get me wrong, we do have fights, but they are solved by talking things out and working to understand one another’s point of view. The most serious consequence you will find in the Schadt household is a heart to heart conversation with mom and dad. I have really good relationships with every member of my family and I credit this to how my parents changed the way they were parenting. My parents hold so much influence in my life because of the way they parent. They respect my boundaries, let me make mistakes and then help me learn from them and understand what I need to do better.
This of course makes me very different from the students I am around every day on campus! As I observe their situations, I have become very concerned.
What Concerns Me About Social Media
Social Media puts high expectations on young adults as it is all about knowing what your friends’ favorite celebrities are doing, where they are and how they’re feeling. My generation is constantly on Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. It is very common to walk into a room of college students and find it dead silent as everyone has their phone out doing one thing or another. I join into this insanity on many occasions due to the fact that I do not like sitting somewhere for twenty minutes with nothing to do, but as they are following someone’s Snapchat story I am playing a game or listening to music. This is why most college professors ask their classes to put away their cell phones and many have also created attendance point deductions if you have it out during class. These classroom rules should have been left behind in high school, but they have seeped their way into college classes as my generation has become addicted to these apps.
I have had friends get mad at me because they did not know I was sick or I did not get back to them right away. It didn’t occur to me that they are used to hearing about each other’s lives through social media and that people like to get sympathy for being ill or excitement for random things ie. their pets’ being cute. When I’m sick I don’t think to notify anyone unless I am canceling plans or need someone to grab me an assignment from class. This opened my eyes and helped me realize that social media has caused young adults to expect to know everything going on in the lives of their friends and family.
Friends Expectation Disconnect Over Social Media:
Social media has created barriers between me and some of my friends because I choose not to post my life online for the world to see. They also expect me to stay in contact with them with everything going on. I have weekly dinners with them; I schedule two hours of my week specifically for them. Yet, last month when I came down with a virus and canceled that morning, I was yelled at for doing so because they did not know I was sick. They also expect me to come over to their room once a week to sit in silence. Why you might ask? Because they are on their phones the entire time and end up turning the TV on for me. They say they want to know what is going on in my life and that’s why I come over, but we spend our time doing non-productive, non-socializing tasks. I would prefer to be interacting, helping each other or simply playing a game. What may surprise you is that just a week ago I spent my Friday night playing Apples to Apples over face time with my family and may I say, BEST FRIDAY this semester!!! It seems like my generation is losing its ability to have meaningful face to face relationships. I wonder if my generation hides from deep relationships to avoid being hurt.
The expectations social media creates to keep up with your friends, respond to their posts, and keep them informed on multiple platforms is a constant distraction and pressure in students’ lives today. I wonder if the studies that show social media leaves people feeling more lonely and isolated is why my generation is experiencing higher rates of depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. The addiction social media creates combines with people’s expectations of immediate feedback from social media users and adds pressure to our lives. It also reduces the time students have for face to face relationships that truly meet our relational needs. Let’s also not forget the time it consumes and the distraction it is when we are studying. For me I find social media fulfilling because of the relationships I have had with my family and close friends in high school that were not based on social platforms.
YouTube Girl Sensation’s eyes are opened:
Essena O’Neill is a 19-year-old social media and YouTube sensation who became very popular and eventually landed herself a modeling career. She has recently come out saying that she is quitting social media for her 12-year-old self. That she felt no self-worth and didn’t feel happy with herself at 12 years old. Essena talks about her life on social media and how it didn’t feel fulfilling in this YouTube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmAbwTQvWX8
Social Media doesn’t have to be an issue in your child’s life or a block in your relationship with them. My parents have been the best part of my childhood and young adult life. They hold so much influence in everything I do and accomplish. They are the first people I call for advice, even with dating.
So if you’re having to fight with social media for your child’s attention, check out Revive Family’s parenting content, Influential Parenting, that my parents created. It will help you gain a better understanding of your teens and how you can rebuild your relationship with them and have real influence in their lives again. Free Webinar video to enlighten you more about Influential Parenting.