The dual face of social media: A reflection on its impact on College students and society

By Esther Muhozi
On 25 October 2023 at 08:41

Social media has undoubtedly become an integral part of our lives, and its influence on college students and society as a whole is undeniable. It’s a double-edged sword that can be both a cause of problems and a mirror reflecting the existing societal issues.

This essay explores the complex relationship between social media and college students, examining whether it serves as the cause of problems or as a tool to mask underlying societal evils.

A Source of Distraction and Procrastination

Social media platforms offer an endless stream of distractions, from viral videos and memes to notifications that constantly seek our attention. College students often find it challenging to resist these temptations, leading to procrastination and decreased productivity in their academic pursuits. It’s evident that social media can be a direct cause of academic problems for college students.

Mental Health Concerns

The impact of social media on college students’ mental health is a topic of growing concern. Studies have shown that excessive use of social media can lead to increased feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. The pressure to present a curated, idealized version of one’s life online can lead to a constant state of comparison and self-doubt. Thus, social media can contribute to the rise of mental health issues among college students.

Cyberbullying and Harassment

Social media can also be a breeding ground for cyberbullying and harassment. College students are not immune to online abuse, which can take various forms, including online threats, personal attacks, and the spreading of false information. The anonymity offered by social media platforms can embolden individuals to engage in such harmful behavior.
The Role of Social Media in Masking Societal Evils

Echo Chambers and Confirmation Bias

Social media platforms often create echo chambers where individuals are exposed primarily to information and viewpoints that align with their existing beliefs. This can lead to confirmation bias and reinforce societal prejudices and biases, making it difficult to address underlying societal issues.

Superficial Activism

While social media has played a significant role in raising awareness about societal issues, it can also promote superficial forms of activism. Clicktivism or hashtag activism often fails to translate into real-world change. Posting about a cause without taking concrete action can serve as a facade to mask the lack of substantial progress on societal issues.

Polarization and Division

The spread of misinformation and divisive content on social media can exacerbate societal divisions. It can fuel political polarization, create hostility between groups, and make it difficult to have productive, empathetic conversations about critical societal problems.

Social media’s impact on college students and society is multifaceted. It can be a direct cause of problems such as distraction, mental health issues, and cyberbullying among college students. Simultaneously, it can serve as a platform that masks underlying societal evils by fostering echo chambers, promoting superficial activism, and intensifying societal divisions.

The critical question is not whether social media is the sole cause of all the problems among college students or whether it is solely used to cover societal evils. Rather, it is about how we use this powerful tool. Acknowledging the potential harms while harnessing the positive aspects of social media is essential. College students and society as a whole must strike a balance between embracing the opportunities for connection and activism while mitigating the risks and challenges that social media poses.