Dec
05

Social Media: My Lifeline

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I love when my parents start telling me stories of their deprived youths. They didn’t have cable television, cell phones, or the Internet; they had to entertain themselves the old-fashioned way.

Their stories make me laugh. Why? Because social media isn’t just a form of entertainment for me. If I simply wanted to be entertained I could easily pick up a book. But social media is much more than that.

It is, literally, my only connection to the social world. If someone took away my phone and my Facebook account, it would be the equivalent of banishing me from the inner circle of my friends. I wouldn’t be able to talk to them, I wouldn’t know when everyone was getting together, and I would be on the outside of every joke.

A study conducted by the University of Maryland in 2010 found that college students are essentially addicted to social media for this reason. The study, which asked 200 students to live without social media (including music, TV, computers and texting) for 24 hours, found that students rely heavily on social media for everyday interactions.

It doesn’t matter if your friend lives down the hall or in another state, social media is the primary form of communication; it’s the first way that college students connect with one another, and without it, many students in the study reported feeling of loneliness.

But connecting with friends is only part of the reason students are addicted to social media. As a college student you need social media to stay in contact with professors and classmates as well. In fact, I had classes were Facebook was a virtual classroom. Some of my professors used the social site to provide links to additional materials and give us access to our classmates’ materials.

Although a social media account was never a requirement for my classes it made live more simple. If I had a question I didn’t have to email my professor and wait forever for a response, I could wait until he logged onto Facebook and get his response instantly through chat.

According to PR Daily 8% of students use social sites to communicate with professors and 91% use email to get extra help from professors. The site also reports that 90% of students think tools like tablets make studying easier and 70% of students use their computer to take notes.

The study also found that many students rely on social media for news.  Most students don’t listen to, watch, or read news from mainstream media sources, but they still, somehow, remain informed about important global and local events. How? Through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, text messaging, and other social sites.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of TV news. I prefer the internet because I can sift through extraneous information and skip over articles I’m not interested in. TV shows force you to watch everything, including commercials, even if you’re not interested in the topic. In addition, the news I get on the Internet, unlike that on newspaper or the radio, is instantly verifiable.  All I have to do is follow the links to the sources of the article or type the subject into Google to verify the facts. In just a few seconds I pull up dozens of different stories and opinions on the same topic.

I primarily use blogs and Twitter to stay in touch with the real world.  I know the instant something happens globally or locally through these sources. So, yes Mom, yes Dad, I may be addicted to social media, but I have my reasons.