American college students are killing their brain cells unconsciously by over-consuming social media. According to Pew Research Center, 18 to 24-year-olds consume a variety of social media platforms on a daily basis.
Seventy-eight percent of this age group uses Snapchat, with 71 percent visiting the app multiple times within a day. Likewise, 71 percent of young adults consume Instagram, while roughly 45 percent use Twitter. It’s time for students to dislodge themselves from the deplorable addiction of social media and stop crippling their minds.
I first fell prey to this silent pandemic in my early teen years. Teachers would encourage my peers and I to abandon our phones when we were doing school work and suggested we spark our own intellectual creativity. I declined their suggestions and considered my teachers nuisances who were too stubborn to adapt to modern learning tools.
I failed to understand what was so dangerous about using these innovative platforms, which gave people the opportunity to connect with one another and obtain readily accessible information.
Like most students, I gave full attention to my phone when I woke up in the morning, throughout the school day and before I went to sleep at night. For hours, I would scroll through mind-numbing content and would experience a different mood while delving deeper into my collection of apps. This distracted me from learning and affected my GPA.
The American Psychological Society says, “Unless social media activity in the classroom is related to academic work, ‘distractive multitasking’ on social media sites leads to a lower grade-point average and poorer overall academic performance.”
My subconscious decision to click on apps like Twitter in class left me feeling frustrated about current trending news. I didn’t focus on what my professor was saying because I was too busy tweeting a lengthy response on a societal or political issue.
This anger would transform into jealousy after I would visit the superficial world of Instagram. My ears would tune out my professor’s voice while I compared my photographic journal to the array of pictures by insta-famous personalities.
During class I often felt the need to record interesting Snapchat stories or watch the ones found on the University’s popular page. Sometimes, I didn’t watch stories at all but mindlessly played with the Snapchat filters out of habit. I thought it was a result of boredom from sitting in a long lecture class, but I later realized it was the short-attention span acquired from over-consumption of social media.
I ignored these debilitating side effects and continued to engage shamelessly in my phone during lectures. I often left my classes barely understanding the concepts I was supposed to absorb.
Instead of making sure I had the appropriate materials for the school day, I would check my phone to see if I had any likes, shares, pins, comments and retweets. I was too busy on my phone double tapping pictures my friends uploaded or retweeting relatable Twitter comments instead of participating in meaningful class discussions. This occurred more in big classes where the majority of students were browsing social media on their phones and laptops, provoking me to do the same. Little did we know, chains were being wrapped around our brains.
My obsession worsened, and I began to become lazy with my academic responsibilities. Instead of crafting my own products through personal knowledge, I relied heavily on social media to help me with assignments. Thanks to popular apps like GroupMe, my classmates and I asked each other for answers when it came to online quizzes and homework. The people who provided answers gained likes and new followers, while I had lost the ability to think on my own.
YouTube became my prime learning tool for certain subjects, as I found it unnecessary to attend classes when I could “teach myself” through videos. This not only caused me to miss out on in-depth information, but it was harder for me to understand specific questions discussed in class prior to a test.
Pew Research Center found Youtube to be the dominant social media site with 94 percent of young adults as users. Though this site offers beneficial sources to help students better understand a topic within a subject, it is a double-edge sword because it hinders them from studying effectively. This platform allows students to cram the night before a test by watching a string of “crash course” videos and gives them the opportunity to steal educational ideas. Why meet up with your assigned group to brainstorm for a project when Youtube is a crutch to help walk everyone to a door of solutions?
I’m not advising students to give up social media permanently, but it’s vital they be aware of their consumption and control it if they want to be avid-learners. This will allow students to retain class information thoroughly and perform better on tests. Further, students will regain their curiosity and enhance their learning abilities. Fasting from social media will help us to become independent thinkers again.
Enthusiasm after receiving a notification can be replaced with the excitement of discovering new knowledge and understanding class material without the help of technology.
It took the spring semester of my freshman year at the University to realize social media was poisoned milk, and I was a newborn baby drinking it with pleasure. Of course, it was difficult to cope with my displacement at first, but I persevered because I wanted to realign my core values of education. It was time for me to take my thinking cap back and free my brain from technological captivity.
My controlled engagement of social media has given me newfound creativity, independence, productivity and confidence. I feel like I have escaped a black hole. Hopefully, other college students will trust their ability to limit social media consumption and take their power back.
Jasmine Edmonson is a 20-year-old mass communication sophomore from Denham Springs, Louisiana.