Social media plays a much bigger role in the everyday life of college students than one might think, and screen time usually determines whether the virtual experience is good or bad.
A few Auburn students came forward and shared their personal take on where social media falls on the mental health spectrum — from negative to positive and in between.
“I probably spend four to six hours a day on social media. I mostly use Instagram and then some Snapchat,” said Haley Cassidy, a neuroscience freshman.
Cassidy felt that her time on social media was mostly wasted mindlessly scrolling through videos.
“Harming my mental health, straining my relationships, and glorifying the worldview are major setbacks,” Cassidy said. “But I also use some platforms to talk to my friends.”
Cassidy even goes one step further, explaining that social media drains her and lowers her grades as a student because she’s busy doing it instead of studying. She feels more content scrolling through people’s posts than stressing over a test.
Another Auburn student, Shauna Giroir, an undergraduate biomedical sciences student, said she spends about two to three hours a day on social media.
“I spend most of my time on Tik Tok, Instagram and Snapchat,” Giroir said. “As someone who regularly mindlessly scrolls through Instagram, I know that I only use social media to fill in the blanks.”
Giroir also linked this influence to her student life, saying: “When I was a student, I used to see some of my fellow students on my For You Tik Tok page. Seeing these people with whom I have no personal connection is confusing and gives me a glimpse of them before I actually meet them.”
Giroir also sees social media as more of a mental factor, emphasizing that she believes social media can cause many forms of mental stress. She believes platforms have incredibly high expectations that make people fail.
“I only spend thirty minutes a day on social media — twenty on Snapchat and ten on Instagram,” said Matthew Wilkins, a mechanical engineering freshman. “I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time on social media. I usually streak and chat with people on Snapchat and Instagram is full of cute animals that just make me happy.”
However, Wilkins acknowledges the flaws of social media.
“The addictive nature of social media can definitely become a problem,” Wilkins said. “The mental distraction definitely impacts college students’ sleep and learning.”
Cassidy said students should try reading, meditating, or trying something creative instead of taking to social media if it makes them feel bad.
Giving additional advice, Giroir said nothing on social media shows the full story. She trusts that moving away from technology altogether and trying a new activity are appropriate remedies for whatever problem one may be facing.
“The internet is fake, just believe in yourself. There are many things you can do to break away from that, but I found nature to be a great option,” Wilkins said.
All students mentioned that social media can be used positively; However, their responses indicate that social media not only has a negative impact on student life, but also on mental health.
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Luke Jenkins | cultural writer
Luke Jenkins is a freshman at Auburn University with a major in Biomedicine and a minor in Spanish. He began The Plainsman in the fall of 2022.
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