It's almost impossible to avoid social media in this day and age.
Social media is not the worst thing in the world to be addicted to. You can see what people are doing, use it to network, keep up with news and see cute photos of dogs.
As a journalism major, I spend a lot of time seeing what's in the news. I watch the news on television and read excerpts from articles in the Washington Post or New York Times on Instagram. It is important to make sure to only get your news from reliable sources though.
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I am always told by my family that I am “on my phone too much,” but I just want to know what is going on in people’s lives or in the world. Even if I wasn’t a media major, there is nothing wrong with being on social media for a few hours a day.
Being on social media can be a good thing. As someone who frequently uses Twitter, I have made so many friends on there who I talk to almost daily. A study by Pew Research Center found that 57% of teens say they’ve made new friendships online. Every time I travel around the Chicago area, I make a point to see my friend Summer, whom I met on Twitter.
Being online so much has also helped me come in contact with so many people who are great connections for after college. I follow the High School Journalism Institute on Instagram, and they posted about some of their alumni that went on to be great journalists. I was able to look them up on LinkedIn and talk to them about what I should be doing now to be ready for after college.
“Social media can be quite useful as a form of bridging social capital,” Andrew Weaver, Media Psychology professor, said. “That is, giving us the chance to create and maintain the kind of weak ties that provide access to opportunities, ideas, information and social leverage that they otherwise wouldn’t get.”
Social media has brought us a whole new way to spread information incredibly fast across international borders. IU freshman Elie Bryan said she thinks social media has brought change for the better.
“Gen Z and younger generations are some of the most politically and socially active generations because many people use social media as a form of spreading awareness on important causes such as women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, Black Lives Matter movement and more,” Bryan said.
Don’t get me wrong — social media is not just sunshine and rainbows.
“Research has shown that for some people, particularly those who are lonely and/or seeking more substantive connections, using social media can increase feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression,” Weaver said.
But using social media responsibly can positively affect us, too. For me, being on social media all the time helps me stay informed and feel involved. According to another study conducted by Pew Research Center roughly eight in 10 teens ages 13 to 17 say social media makes them feel more connected to what’s going on in their friends’ lives.
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It can affect everyone differently, so you just need to know when it's time for you to put your phone down, so it doesn’t get worse. Maybe consider putting limits on how much you use social media every day.
Bryan said that before she took a gap year she decided to create @indianauniversity_2024 with a friend, and that decision alone swayed her to change her major to media advertising.
“I believe that the benefits outweigh the negatives,” Bryan said.
Social media is a huge part of our society, and there is nothing wrong with being a little obsessed with it.
Olivia Franklin (she/her) is a junior studying journalism with a minor in political science. She is a member of the swim club at IU and the Women in Media organization.