Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop In: Why College Students Should Unplug From Social Media


It’s everywhere, and seemingly nobody can hide from it.

You’re in line at the Starbucks on-campus, and both the people waiting to order as well as the students sitting at tables are connected to something — laptops, cell phones, iPads — headphones are in their ears, shutting out the world around them.

Then, you leave Starbucks to go to class. As soon as you enter your classroom, despite it being filled with your fellow classmates, it is quiet enough to hear a pin drop. This is due to the fact that each and every student is sitting with their eyes glued to their screens, refreshing their Twitter feed every other minute.

It’s a bit ironic that social media has done everything but make us students more social. Instead, we utilize social media to pass time that could alternatively be used to catch up with friends and family members either in person or through phone calls.

With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see how social media is taking over the lives of college students.

We’re becoming more and more connected to a fictitious, addictive world, and less and less connected to the real world — one that couldn’t care less about the amount of likes and comments you get on your photo.

Social Media and Our Grades

One of the dangers of excessive social media use is the effect that it can have on students’ GPAs and work ethic. In fact, a survey of 117 American students found that higher internet usage was negatively correlated with work drive, consequently resulting in lower grades. Additionally, a study of 219 American university students found that Facebook use in particular was associated with lower GPAs. Lower grades ultimately lead to pressure and stress on the shoulders of students, so why continue to use something that is poison to our well-being?

Read Some Tweets, Lose Some Z’s

Excessive use of social media can result in poorer sleep quality. Specifically, a study done at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts found that people who were exposed to the bright light of computer and cell phone screens less than eight hours before they went to bed produced less melatonin, the chemical that helps us fall asleep. Of course, we’re all guilty of scrolling through videos of food on Buzzfeed to fall asleep. But what we need to keep in mind is that these dizzying videos of intricate recipes that we will never make are in fact hindering our sleep. Think about that the next time you wake up feeling less than rested and refreshed!

“How can I do a social media “detox” when I rely on it to keep in touch with my friends?”
~Sam*, University of Central Florida

Of course, it is hard to ignore the fact that social media has taken over the university culture. Just like Sam, if you do not have any form of social media, you may feel “out of the loop” when people are Snapchatting at a party or talking about a funny photo that somebody posted on Instagram. With this in mind, people might make the case that they depend on social media to feel up to date, connected to their friends, and generally happy. Yet research has suggested a link between extended time on social media and experiencing negative mental health outcomes as opposed to feeling happier after using it.

Social Media = Bad Vibes

In fact, people who spent time on Facebook often came away from the site feeling jealous of others. Think about it — I am sure you have spent an afternoon scrolling through your friend’s photos of his time abroad in Germany while you sat in the sickeningly brightly lit library crying over the lab report you have to construct. These feelings of jealousy can ultimately lead to self-destructive thought patterns… Why can’t I afford to travel Europe? Why am I not as cool as X? Why does Y have more likes on her photo than I do? So, to those who feel like they need social media to feel connected to friends and to experience overall happiness, take some time to reflect on whether or not this is really “happiness,” or if it’s just manic jealousy.

We Found Love In A Social Place

Then, there are the ever present dating social media sites that so many college students are relying on to meet partners.

You might be thinking, If I don’t use Instagram, or Tindr, or OKCupid, I’ll die alone surrounded by 97 cats. Don’t fret. In fact, the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships has found that social media use is linked to lower quality relationships — this includes romantic and platonic ones. Remember the last time you met someone — whether it was a friend or a date — for a coffee or a bite to eat. Most likely, each of your cell phones played a role in the date. Perhaps you and the other person checked it occasionally, or at least thought about checking it, instead of concentrating greatly on the conversation.

Then there are the people who are already in relationships who see one member of the opposite sex liking their significant other’s photo or commenting on it. In this day and age, this surely means that your partner is cheating on you, right? Wrong (in most cases). Social media causes a lot of drama in relationships, and the ones that it does inspire aren’t of the best quality. It may be better to just stay patient, enjoy being by yourself, and let fate introduce you to your soul mate…

So…WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

We have to ask ourselves as students — why do we need to share everything that’s going on in our lives? And why do we need to know everything that’s going on in others’ lives? Social media, while helpful at times, is not as necessary as we think. In fact, it actually can make us feel pretty crappy. So why is it something that we crave like a drug? When it all comes down to it, we are students at the university level, and this is a crucial time for us to find out about ourselves. What do we want to do? What makes us tick? Who do we want to become?

I can guarantee that the answers to these questions won’t be found in Kim Kardashian’s Snapchat story.