Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus.) We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
College is difficult enough with classes, social life, wellness, and whatever else is on your full plate. On top of that, we are a generation centered around social media. During the first month of freshman year, Instagram is full of high school friends capturing their night out with new friends simply to demonstrate that they are having an amazing time at school. Maybe they are and maybe they are not! We all do it! Social media causes us to curate the idealistic college experience whether it is editing the perfect photo or making sure to snapchat “Mr. Brightside” at a frat party.
While social media can be harmless fun, it can also take a toll on our mental wellbeing. Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook are all integrated into our daily lives. As students, we are always on and aware of what others are doing during all hours of the day. Social media makes us compare ourselves to both our new peers and our old friends. On a new campus, smiling group snaps cause us to ask ourselves if we are only the people without a group of best friends. But then, a new Instagram pops up on your feed of high school friends having a grand old time at their new school. With all social media pointing towards the direction of here is my perfect life, it is critical to remember that social media is the highlight reel — your feed is probably just that too. Yet, when we still tend to compare our own lives to a snippet of another individuals. College amplifies these feelings.
The big dilemma is how do we manage having a healthy relationship with social media in college? First, take advantage of the unfollow and mute buttons on Instagram. If you continue to compare yourself to the same individuals, implement the out of sight, out of mind technique. Secondly, spend less time on your phone. I know it can seem difficult to stop aimlessly scrolling before going to bed or during study breaks, simply turn your phone off during these times. Trust me, you will not be missing anything super important. Other ways to get off the phone are to spend time outside (run or hike), go to a movie, read a book, and talk with friends! The options are endless.
Finally, perspective is everything. There will always be times where we are struggling with our wellbeing in college, yet it is critical to remember that you are not alone. College is not a picture perfect moment all the time and it is okay if you have not posted party snaps, have the best groups of friends ever, or have the desire to delete Instagram off your phone. Lean into the change and discomfort college brings into your life. By embracing the real moments with new people and new classes in an interesting environment, social media will control your life less.
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