Over & Out: More Students Deleting Social Media to Preserve Mental Health
By Urja Parhi
Social media overuse has become somewhat of a light-hearted joke about excessive screen times and scrolling addictions, but who is talking about the reality of it? ANU students have spoken about the obligatory nature of keeping social media, especially on-campus students.
Many students have stated that they only downloaded Facebook upon starting university, as it is the main platform for societies, residences, and events. One individual stated how they believed they “never thought they would need Facebook” and “assumed our generation was phasing it out.”
Facebook has fast become an essential feature of life on campus, with students who live on campus needing to check it frequently in order to be in the know of events and important information concerning their residence.
Olivia, a first-year student who transferred from Yukeembruk to Bruce Hall commented on the importance of having social media whilst living in a residential hall. She stated that “joining a new college midterm made Facebook a necessity to get up to speed on what was happening”. She also stated that she thought it would be “possible but very difficult to live in a college without social media as you would have to completely rely on word of mouth”, a sentiment shared by multiple other students.
Another on-campus student, Prim, commented on how ditching her iPhone for a Nokia C2-01 has impacted not only her on-campus experience, but her life. She said that the positives, apart from a “superiority complex”, included more “feelings of peace” and “personal connections with people” as she asks for phone numbers rather than Instagram usernames. However, Prim emphasised the difficulties within travel, communication, and keeping up with her residence.
“I’ve missed a lot of events as I completely rely on other people to tell me what’s happening”. Despite this, she does not regret making the switch and would recommend it to anyone who is willing to experience a little bit of FOMO in order to free themselves from the clutches of technology and social media.
On the other hand, off-campus student Gen said that she “doesn’t think she uses Facebook as much as on-campus students”. However, she also said social media as a whole has been “very important” in terms of group projects and “staying connected to others despite living off campus”.
Despite anecdotes of Nokias and deleting social media, Generation Z has also seen a major increase in how much time is spent on technology per day, with the average screen time being 7.3 hours a day. The majority of this statistic is owed to social media use, specifically Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Many students admit that a large portion of their time is taken up by mindless scrolling, also known as “doom-scrolling”. This has reportedly not only taken away time from their studying, but also decreases their sleep quantity and quality. However, students want to change this statistic in order to focus on their academics and mental health.
First-year student, Maddie, says that it is “impossible to live in a college without social media” but she admits that she occasionally forces herself to delete social media when it is really affecting her academics.
Maddie is not alone, data published by Pew Research Center shows that users between 18 and 25 years old are the only age group to see a decrease in social media use since 2019.
Scrolling has become the procrastinator’s best friend, whether it is spending hours on TikTok or tricking yourself into thinking that Instagram reels are more justified, students have discussed they generally don’t realise how much time has gone by.
One 2015 study from the journal of experimental psychology found that passive social media use (scrolling) could be linked to declines in subjective well-being over time.
While some young people seem to be aware of the consequences regarding excess technology use, many still find it difficult to break out of such solidified habits.
Students also outlined the negative effects of social media use, as it has affected their academics, mental health, and physical health, especially sleep.
“Whilst it can help connect people and alleviate feelings of isolation, it can feed into feelings of depression and anxiety. Bad for sleep too, doom-scrolling is not too good.” stated Daniel, a first year student.
However, there is potential for change as many have expressed a desire to not be so online, but still remain connected to the world around them.
What was once an integral part of their daily routine is now being discarded, as young individuals opt for a life less connected online and more anchored in the real world.
Graphics by Annisa Zatalini
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