The good, the bad and the ugly of social media on university students

By Njoroge Chege

As we integrate 21st-century technology into our daily lives, we ought to be aware of the effects online social media platforms have on our university students. Social media is one of the best tools for students when it comes to networking, content creation, and a means of cash generation, even though it can be time-consuming, damaging, and practically vulnerable when it comes to bullying at universities and colleges.

The Good

In today’s world, social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, etc., are some of the most relied on tools by university students to generate revenue. If you have a smartphone, internet connection, and an account set up with one of the platforms, you can easily launch your channel and start creating income-generating content- it’s that simple.

Students utilize social media to network among themselves, discuss class assignments, and share about events taking place on campus and in the surrounding community. An example of this is how the student community was notified of the recent mugging of one of our students on USIU Road through WhatsApp.

Since they feel more at ease on social media platforms, many students tend to participate in online debates and conversations regarding their academics and any other grievances they may have. Students have also been able to enhance their reading and communication skills as well as stay up to date with current events across the world as seen in the infamous case of the late George Floyd and what has just transpired in Sri Lanka.

The Bad

Many university student lead lives where who they are is not as important as what they represent. What they represent on the social media is their new reality. Living a lie is the norm to the vast majority of them.

Society on the other hand is turning a blind eye to the issue rather than trying to comprehend how students are coping with social media, train them on how to audit their social media consumption and develop a preventative strategy on how not to overuse social media lest it becomes detrimental in their formative years.

F.O.M.O, the “fear of missing out” on social media has become the number 2 anxiety-inducing among many university students after the exam. Due to students’ incessant urge to post, check their status and share their feed, some individuals think social media is the most harmful tool for students.

The Ugly

Some lecturers have alleged that some students are selfies addicts and are constantly taking selfies, whether in class or outside class. On the other hand, experts have noted that social media has raised the prevalence of bullying among college students.

Tyler Clemnit committed suicide after going viral on social media after his roommate secretly filmed him kissing another boy and making his sexual orientation public.

Anita Sarkeesian, a Canadian-American student experienced another incident of cyberbullying when she got murder and gang-rape threats for expressing her strong feminist views on her website.

In conclusion, I think that students should assess their social media intake, students should develop a preventative strategy to avoid using social media excessively, and even though abstinence is not for everyone, we can at least practice safe “social media distancing,” especially with those who are close to us.

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