How Students Can Use Social Media In A Healthy Way

Are you not aware that other people tend to mostly share just the best vibes about their lives? If I told you that most of the time people hide their low and down experiences from social media; …. Will it lessen those feelings of envy and dissatisfaction? By Radhiya Seraj, Public Relations Officer at Kenya Utalii College

Are you a student who enjoys staying connected on social media? I know scrolling, liking, commenting, sharing, click-click-clicking can be so exciting yes, but did you know that extreme use of social media can be harmful and can bring feelings of loneliness, anxiety, hopelessness, and FOMO?

We rely on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and LinkedIn to find and build relationships with each other. All these social media platforms have their significance but they can never replace the one-on-one human connections. The in-person interactions are of importance to us; the reason being, they trigger hormones that lessen stress and make us feel happier, healthier, and more positive.

Are you spending an excessive amount of time on social media? Are you experiencing feelings of sadness, dissatisfaction, frustration, or loneliness in your life, even after all these interactions on social media? This calls you to re-examine your social media habits and strike a healthy balance. 

What are the positive features of social media?

Social media enables you to:

– Communicate and stay up to date with family and friends around the world. 

– Find new friends and communities; network with other people who share similar interests or ambitions, for example, different social media channels such as Facebook or LinkedIn have different groups of people who enjoy or advocate for a common cause.

– Join or promote worthwhile causes; for instance, raise awareness on important College issues. You can use social media to highlight your college club activities or how you can impact society as students. 

– Seek or offer emotional support especially during these tough COVID times or during Grief. 

– Have a platform and space for your creativity and self-expression.

– Learn valuable information and research.

Why women should “hug” the digital world

The more ladies embrace technology, the more they are going to be able to innovate, invent and push their projects forward.

What are the negative features of social media?

  1. Feeling like your life or appearance is a shortfall. You may have information that most images shared on social media are not real but rather highly filtered and manipulated. However, these images may still make you feel low or insecure about your appearance and about what you may perceive as not doing well in your life. Are you not aware that other people tend to mostly share just the best vibes about their lives? If I told you that most of the time people hide their low and down experiences from social media; …. Will it lessen those feelings of envy and dissatisfaction? Next time you scroll through a friend’s photos’ studio on their recent Wildebeest migration holiday or read about their exciting new side job and that they are making a lot of money, do not let their online success hinder your happiness.
  2. Fear of missing out (FOMO). This idea that you are missing out on certain things, can hurt your self-esteem, trigger anxiety, and fuel even greater social media use. Social channels can put real pressure and make you feel like you are missing out.

FOMO can coerce you to:- 

– Pick up your phone and check for updates every single minute. 

– Respond to every alert even during class sessions or every little break you get.

– Miss out on sleep at night

– Value social media interaction over one on one relationships. 

  1. Loneliness. A study found out that high usage of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram increases feelings of isolation. With constant chats, frequent status updates, and news feeds, one would expect high consumers of social media to have the feeling that they belong, but on the contrary, they feel lonely and isolated. Conversely, the study found that reducing social media usage can interestingly, make you feel less lonely and isolated and thereby improve your overall wellbeing.
  2. Depression and anxiety. The face-to-face human interactions which we in many instances take for granted are crucial for us to be mentally healthy. Enjoy the connections you have with your College mates and other staff; they will enable you to reduce stress and boost your mood. Learn to prioritize the one-on-one interactions; these will help you alleviate mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
  3. Self-absorption. Posting endless selfies and everything that goes on in your life on social media can create an unhealthy self-absorption and distance you from real-life connections. One million likes on your comments should not make you feel on top of the world and imagine that you are special or someone who knows it all. 
  4. Escapism: Find healthier ways to manage and boost your moods. Try not to run to social media because you are feeling down, lonely, bored or annoyed. Try not to use social media to distract yourself from unpleasant feelings. It may be difficult at first, but allowing yourself to experience your feelings can open you up to finding better ways of taking care of your moods and mishaps.
  5. Cyberbullying. Every day people get bullied on social media and are made to go through so many offensive comments. Certain social media channels can be hotspots for spreading hurtful rumors, lies, and abuse that can leave you wounded and emotionally affected for a long time.

Signs that social media is impacting you negatively

Everyone is different and there is no specific measure for the amount of time spent on social media, or the frequency you check for updates, or the number of posts you make, to indicate that your use of social media is becoming unhealthy. Rather, we consider the effect of the time spent on social media on your mood and other aspects of your life, along with your motivations for using it.

For example, your social media use may be a problem if it causes you to neglect one-on-one interactions, distracts you from attending your class sessions or completing your assignments, or leaves you with feelings of envy, anger, or depression. Likewise, if you are driven to use social media just because of boredom or loneliness, or want to post something to make others jealous or upset, then you may need to check on your habits.

How can you tell that social media is impacting your well-being negatively?

  1. Using social media more frequently than the interactions you have with your mates, friends, or family. Still checking on your social media when you are out with friends. This is normally driven by the feeling that maybe others are having more fun than you are.
  2. You have low self-esteem and are not confident or you have negative body language. When you constantly compare yourself with everyone you see doing well on social media.
  3. When you are bullied on social media and maybe you keep worrying about not having control over the things people say about you online.
  4. You post regular content about yourself, get comments and likes on your posts, and you respond promptly and enthusiastically to friends’ posts, but you do not do your assignments, do not participate in group activities or your College community activities.
  5. Being engrossed in social media during every spare time that you get, thus leaving you little or no time for self-reflection. You have no time to sit back and audit your ways, thoughts, action, or the things that are of value in your personal development to allow you to grow as a person.
  6. You engage in questionable behavior so that you gain likes, shares, and reactions on social. You post embarrassing material, nudity, cyberbully, or annoying pranks.
  7. You suffer from sleeping problems. Do you check social media last thing at night? Do you do it first thing in the morning? Do you check it when you wake up in the night? Be warned that the light phones or tablets emit can disrupt your sleep, and that lack of sleep can have a serious impact on your emotional wellbeing. 

“When you learn to focus on the reason that sent you to log in, you will reduce the time you spend on social media and can also improve your overall experience”

How can you healthily use social media?

1. Lessen the time you spend online

A study at the University of Pennsylvania has found out that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to a meaningful improvement in your wellbeing. Being mindful of your social media habits can have significant results on your performance, concentration, mood, and focus. 30 minutes a day may not be very practical but you can try reducing the amount of time you spend on social media. 

You can do the following to help you reduce the time that you spend on social media:-

– Set a goal of how much time you want to spend on social media. We have many apps that can help you track the time you spend on social media. 

– Don’t bring your phone or tablet to bed. Turn it off and away from your bed.

– Turn off social media notifications. Constant buzzing and beeping will make you not concentrate on your goals. 

– Limit the number of times you check your phone.

– Install social media apps on your phone or tablet or access only via a desktop; this will limit the number of times you can access social media.

 2. Learn to focus

What are your reasons for logging on? Are you going to check on a friend? Are you logged in to post your photos? Or are you going to search for a pair of shoes in the marketplace? When you learn to focus on the reason that sent you to log in, you will reduce the time you spend on social media and can also improve your overall experience. Try not to access social media mindlessly to kill time by scrolling and scrolling, or just to see how many likes you got from a previous post, this will help you to keep away from so many negative aspects.

Next time you are logged on social media, ask yourself; 

Am I using social media to run away from my real life? Does social media leave me feeling happier and contented? Does it leave me feeling disappointed and demeaned? Then try to look for a substitute and work on yourself and your goals that will enable you to use social media better.

3: Substitute social media by spending more time with offline friends

There are many ways to build meaningful connections without relying on social media.

– Interact offline with classmates and college mates. Try to make it a regular get-together where you always keep your phones off.

– Join a club. The College has several clubs including Wildlife, Drama, First Aid, Sports, Dancing, Journalism, Heritage, Karate, Choir, KUC Band, Fashion Modeling, and the various Religious groups namely, SDA, Christian Union, and Catholic Action, among others. You can also form a club or a fitness activity you enjoy and have a group of like-minded individuals that meet for a specific goal or objective.

– Get better by connecting with people you come across on the corridors of your Institution, at the dining hall, and even at the sports ground. By simply smiling or saying “Jambo”, you will boost how you feel.

4: Show gratitude

Feeling and expressing appreciation and gratefulness about the beautiful aspects of your life can be an effective relief to the bitterness, hostility, and unhappiness that is at times generated by social media.

– Put all the positive things about your life in a gratitude journal. If you are among those who constantly vent and are negative on posts, a private reflection that isn’t subject to the scrutiny of others may be good for you.

– Practice mindfulness. This will help you live a more fulfilled life. Make effort to lessen the impact of FOMO on you and this will improve your overall mental wellbeing.

– Undertake community or college activities through volunteering to participate in projects. Helping other people not only enriches your community and the College but also leaves you feeling happier and more content.

If you feel that social media is affecting your well-being, and taking a break is not giving you much relief or is just too difficult for you to handle, then consider reaching out to speak to someone who can help you through.


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