Imagine life as a college student with no social media for 30 days. For some students participating in this challenge is not a big deal but for others, a full month without any form of social media can seem nearly impossible.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 2.62 billion people worldwide use social media as of 2018. Out of those people, 14.8 million of them are students enrolled in colleges in the United States. For some, social networking is such a huge part of their daily lives that the thought of not being active on these sites can seem very difficult, especially for students continuing their education after high school.
While sites like Facebook provide opportunities to connect with people from around the world, it also allows people to peek into the lives of others.
In comes FOMO (fear of missing out). For those who have never heard of this term before, it is the envious, negative, and anxious feelings associated with not being active in the lives of those who are close to you. Social media goes hand-in-hand with these feelings because if a user who is constantly active on these platforms abruptly stops using them, that fear of missing out can be triggered.
FOMO has even been deemed as a true “psychological condition” by some psychologists and researchers. In fact, a recent study published in a scholarly book, “Motivation and Emotion,” states that this fear is actually greater when people are either studying or working.
With apps like Instagram and Snapchat, one can vicariously live through the lives of others. Therefore, people can rely on these platforms to provide them with the “fuel” necessary to avoid FOMO.
So, what if a college student decided to take a 30 day break from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.? Can one benefit from a full month of absolutely no social networks? Are there any negative “side effects?” Well, this all depends on the person and how committed they are to these platforms.
Full time CCBC Student and Psychology Major, Trish Kazelis, does not consider herself attached to social media, despite having a Facebook profile.
“I don’t think I’m addicted to it. It’s [logging in] not the first thing I do when I wake up, and I rarely interact with social media on a daily basis,” she says.
She decided to take a break for personal reasons and also contributes the potential issues associated with social platforms to her decision.
“I was having conflicts with people over it and ultimately felt fed up with the platform.”
While this break was easier for her because of the little impact Facebook has on her daily life, she thinks that all college students can benefit from abstaining from all social media for a month. In fact, she has completed this challenge before and found that it helped detach herself from these social sites.
Kazelis says, “I found new ways to entertain myself, but most importantly, I found myself more aware of what was going on around me because I wasn’t hunched over a phone.”
She also feels that students often get too distracted from these networks.
“College students can sometimes have poor priorities, caring only about their phones, Instagram, and getting ‘likes.’ Separating themselves from social media for an extended period of time can help them reevaluate their priorities, pay better attention in class, and get more school work done.”
The ultimate result of her break from these networks?
“I use social media now, but I don’t allow it to be such a big part of my life anymore.”
So, what about the other half of society who uses social media on a daily basis? Surely, a 30 day break would not be as easy as it was for someone like Kazelis.
Frequest Snapchat user and CCBC student, Ashah Pervez, says that she uses social media every day. As a senior who is graduating from the college with a degree in medicine, she says she would rather not participate in the challenge because she enjoys having the easy accessibility of information at her hands.
Pervez isn’t alone. In a 2018 study done by Project Information Literacy, out of 5,844 students across 11 colleges and universities in the U.S., 89 percent use social media weekly as a source of news.
“If I want to find something out, I know I can go on social media and find it. I wouldn’t say I depend on it, but without it, I feel like I don’t know much and I’m missing out on something that maybe I should know about.”
What she is describing is a prime example of the previously mentioned FOMO. Although she is active on these networks, she recognizes that these apps and websites can be a distraction.
“When I try to study, it distracts me a lot because I am so tempted to get on it to see what’s going on with my page. Sometimes I have to turn my phone off when I am at home just so I don’t get off focus and can do my homework.”
Despite not wanting to do the 30 day no social media challenge, she acknowledges the benefits of it.
“Not using it would make me focus more throughout my day and would keep me busy [with schoolwork].”
There are two conclusions we can make from hearing both sides of this spectrum: Two different people with opposing opinions reaffirms that a break from social networking just depends on how involved the user is with these platforms.
However, the other conclusion that can be drawn is that both sides recognize that this challenge can be beneficial to college students. Aside from focusing more on studies, without the distraction of sites like Twitter or Youtube, there is opportunity to truly focus on oneself.
Students who are experiencing personal challenges during their semester can redirect their focus on their own personal goals which can result in accomplishing them. Without the distraction and temptation of finding out what’s constantly going on in the world right now, focusing on something as simple as finding a new hobby can lead to new interests and self-discoveries.
So, would you participate in the challenge of going 30 days with no social media? Here’s a better question: Could you go 30 days without social media? Well, there’s only one way to find out.