Social Media in college: the pros and cons

Alana George, Campus Carrier Asst. Arts & Living Editor

Social media use is common, even expected, for any college student. At Berry, social media have become more prevalent in recent years, with new marketing campaigns and students becoming more involved with building their own brand online.

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in January 2018, the top-used apps by people ages 18-24 are YouTube (90 percent) Facebook (80 percent), Snapchat (78 percent), Instagram (71 percent), and Twitter (45 percent). Each of these sites serves a different purpose in a college student’s life, some good, some bad. They can be used to keep up with what friends are doing, but this can lead to comparison, which is indeed the thief of joy. In this social media-ridden landscape, how can students maintain the balance?

Sam Nazione, associate professor in the communication department, believes that social media are a double-edged sword. Nazione herself does not use social media; the negative effects outweighed the positives for her. She said that the social media scene is much different in college because the even playing field in high school is now gone, with some students living in their mother’s basements and others getting married and making money in large companies.

Nazione discussed some of the negative effects they can have on relationships between students and on students’ self-esteem. To clinically explain the effects, Nazione cited the hyperpersonal model, put forth by Joseph Walther.

“When we go on our social media accounts, we very carefully craft an image of ourselves,” Nazione said. “We only put the best pictures, the best things that we’re doing with our lives, we create this image for ourselves and we’re able to take away or add to it at will.”

The model and Nazione said that this type of crafting does affect face-to-face communication.

“It dramatically alters expectations that we have for relationships, and that can have a negative impact when we can’t meet those expectations because they’re so unrealistic,” Nazione said.

With all of its negative effects, it can be hard to see how social media can bring any good into the world. But Nazione does cite some positive effects she has noticed from social media.

“One of the positives about it, though, is that you can reach out for social support,” Nazione said. “I definitely have had friends or family members that are going through a rough time and they’ll post about it and they’ll get lots of love and comments, and I do think that there are some positive things about it.”

Nazione also discussed the effects, both positive and negative, that social media have in the current job market.

“Most employers now are going to look at your digital footprint when they’re interested in hiring you,” Nazione said. “That digital footprint can just as easily hurt your chances of getting a job as it can help your chances of getting a job. If you can portray yourself well on social media, they can extrapolate that to then believe that you can portray a company well on social media.”

Social media really are all about portraying yourself exactly how you want the world to see you, and everyone wants a different image and personality for themselves on the Internet. There are some students at Berry who have done this in a unique way.

Tiana Arriaga is a sophomore at Berry. She has her own YouTube channel, TianaRenay, which has amassed 14,396 subscribers at this point. She has had her channel since she was in middle school, and it grew into a collection of college life videos and vlogs.

“I kind of just make videos just for fun, and people say pretty much everything I film can be entertaining, so I think just making more videos of my daily life or anything that happened in my life, because people seem to be interested in my life for some reason,” Arriaga said.

Arriaga admitted to the struggle of maintaining a consistent presence, due to her busy college schedule.

“When I’m home I film a lot more, but in college I usually end up filming two videos a semester,” Arriaga said. “I’m trying to do more since college is my thing now; I’ll just try to film more.”

Even with the effort her channel takes among the other things required of her, Arriaga loves being on YouTube and wants anyone who is considering it to just go for it.

“Starting YouTube was the best decision I ever made, because I’ve made so many friends and my whole career path has changed because of it,” Arriaga said. “Definitely start one if you want to and don’t be scared. In the long run, it’s not going to matter what anyone thinks and if it makes you happy then you should totally do it.”

With social media still in their infancy, their long-term effects are unclear. For college students in this current landscape, the lesson is to be ever cautious and aware of the implications social media activity can have on the future. It will have an influence on employment opportunities once they leave Berry, and it is up to them to determine whether that will be a positive influence or a negative one.

Leave a Reply