Facebook, Stumbleupon, Pinterest, YouTube, Linkedin, Twitter, Skype, there is no shortage of social media sites geared towards keeping us all up to speed on what’s going on with everyone, everywhere, all the time! While some of these sites can be extremely helpful, cheap, and easily accessible ways to keep in touch with loved ones and friends across the globe, they also have some downsides worth discussing.
First and foremost, social media sites have created a virtual footprint for every one of us that uses them. Our posts, our videos, our pictures, our likes, our favorite hangouts, are being broadcast across the internet constantly. Many college students are unaware of the impact that a simple Facebook post or YouTube video can have on their lives and those around them. Last year a UCLA student’s rant about students in the library ended up with her withdrawing from school after inciting a nationwide debate about racial intolerance and freedom of speak issues. Tyler Clemanti, a Rutgers freshman, committed suicide after his roommate put up a distasteful video of him on the web. While these are extreme examples, it is important to remember that everything you post on the web can be found (often even after you’ve deleted it). Before you post, think about how you’d feel if your grandmother read your post or watched your video, what about younger siblings, or your future boss, what about your high school teachers or coaches. If you wouldn’t want them reading or seeing it, then it’s best to keep it off the web. Also, think about how you are feeling at the time you log-on. If you are frustrated, angry, drunk, upset consider other ways to get your message out. Maybe a simply call to a good friend or writing in a journal would be a good alternative.
Secondly there’s the matter of time management. Many of you have probably lost at least a few hours of sleep, studying, exercise, etc. to these sites and with the increased freedom of your college schedule you might be tempted to spend even more time on these sites. You’ll be in good company as you’ll definitely see other students jumping between sites during lectures, while studying at the library, and everywhere else on campus. Yes, you can choose to be on Facebook 24 hours a day, but how will that impact your ability to concentrate in the classroom? How will your 2 hours a day checking out YouTube videos and your friends’ latest “Pins” impact the amount of time you actually hit the books? We’ve all heard of multi-tasking and some of us do it better than others, but be honest with yourself. Most students can’t move between a textbook or lecture notes and a computer screen without losing important content. It’s also true that most people can’t concentrate on reading or studying for more than about 30 minutes without taking a break, so think about shutting off the I-Pad, the phone, the computer when you need to study; it won’t be that long until you can take a break and “reconnect”.
In the end, staying away from social media is almost impossible, if not at least an unreasonable thing to do. However, making smart choices about how and when you use it will not only benefit you during your first-year at OSU, but well into the future.