Social Media Causes Stress and Pressure Among College Students

Photo Courtesy of Michael Clesle, Flickr Creative Commons

Social media is a tool that is used by millions of people, especially college students. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg was a college student when he created Facebook. Since then, other social media apps like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have been added to the average college student’s smartphone.

“I use social media pretty often: before and after all of my classes, when I wake up and right before I go to sleep at night," said junior Anthony Scillieri.

The average college student uses social media applications every day. The consumer insight service Experian Simmons reports that more than 98 percent of college-aged students use social media. During the start of a student’s freshman year, social media is often used to meet new friends and stay connected to old ones. But did you know that social media can also cause stress?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat can create a distancing from one’s self and reality. While college students are worrying about what people think on social media, they are withdrawing from friend groups, athletic events and club activities.

“A dependence on social media sites (from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Instagram) does not necessarily enhance well-being, say psychiatrists. In one study, in which subjects ramped up their social media usage during a 14-day period, researchers found the participants’ state of happiness decreased quickly as their usage increased,” writes Erinn Bucklan in a Washington Post article.

The stress from social media can cause students to withdraw from social activities going on around campus. Students feel that if they go to these events they will feel the same stress they have while using social media, like having to look or feel a certain way while participating.

Social media has also become a gateway for procrastination and the unnecessary stress that brings. It is a distraction from homework and studying, which causes students to lose track of time. They then have to stay up late and cram for test or write a five-page essay the day it is due.

“When I am stuck on an assignment and need some time away I will use social media. Sometimes even when I get notifications I side track from my homework to check and see what's new,” Scillieri said. 

Social media can also affect college students’ confidence. People want to know what their friends are doing or what the new trends are. They want to know where a celebrity has been and what make-up techniques they use. Obsessing over celebrities or seeing unrealistic photos that are shared on social media can decrease body confidence: another negative effect of social media.

“Social media can cause stress because you find yourself wanting to know why people posted something; curiosity kicks in," said freshman Jenny Lewis. "I find myself conforming to body images set by other celebrities because they make it seem important to constantly worry about looks.” 

Perri Klass of the New York Times, writes, “Our children are using social media to accomplish the eternal goals of adolescent development, which include socializing with peers, investigating the world, trying on identities and establishing independence.”  

Clearly, as Klass says, social media is an important tool to college students these days. That being said, it should be used as a way to connect and not in a way that adds unwanted stress.