Students’ social media use affects success in school work and passions

Photo Illustration by MJ Routh | Many students spend time on their phones before bed which shortens their possible study time and also affects their sleep.

By Madalyn Watson | Reporter

Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter. These are just some of the social media platforms that distract students from focusing on their studies and passions.

According to an AAP study in 2017, 50 percent of American teenagers use social media and 60 percent send text messages while working on their homework or studying. This form of multitasking affects a student’s learning abilities.

Anaheim Hills, Calif., sophomore Sarah Gendron uses social media apps like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, but said her favorite distraction is browsing Reddit.

“Hours usually go by of procrastination spent on social media any time I sit down to do work,” Gendron said.

Gendron thinks she would be much better off if she had never been exposed to the distractions of social media.

“I would still spend time procrastinating, but probably less because eventually you just run out of things to do. But if you have the internet and all the social media apps, then it’s never-ending,” Gendron said.

Houston sophomore Caroline Murphy uses social media to occupy her time and distract her when she’s struggling with homework, friends or other aspects of her life.

“I use them for a huge a stress reliever, so whenever I get really stressed by school, I just go to social media and spend hours doing that instead of doing what I need to be doing,” Murphy said.

However, Murphy said she enjoyed her past experiences at summer camp where she had no access to her phone for weeks or months at a time. She explained that it gave her a look at what her life would be like without social media.

“If I logistically could throw my phone away and literally have a flip phone for emergencies and that somehow got Baylor emails, I would be so happy,” Murphy said.

Waco sophomore Anjelica Achterhof deleted all of her social media apps from her phone when she realized they distracted her from achieving a peaceful state of mind.

“I feel like I do want to re-download them, but start using them in a way that is a tool for promoting my art or promoting things that I want to speak my mind about instead of just wanting to show off what I’m doing or how cute I look with my friends,” Achterhof said.

Achterhof said social media put her in a mindset that prevented her from being motivated in life.

“I find myself on social media for hours and realize like, ‘Wow, I could have been educating myself, I could have been out exploring nature, I could have been pursuing my art or praising God for what’s around me,’” Achterhof said.

However, Gendron believed that some good came out of her procrastination. She began reading fitness and health subreddits, discussed the benefits of certain workout routines and healthy eating habits.

“[Reddit] really encouraged me to go and actually lift weights, which was something that was very intimidating,” Gendron said.

Achterhof kept Pinterest when she deleted all her other apps because she finds inspiration for creativity and her artwork through social media.

“I will get spurts of motivation if I see [social media] accounts that are art or travel related, and then I’ll be more motivated to want to pursue those endeavors,” Achterhof said.

In a study conducted in the UK and Ireland in 2017, 52 percent of people polled were said to post pictures that are not realistic portals of their lives on social media simply to make their followers, or friends, jealous.

Murphy has limited her time on social media and no longer follows accounts that portray unrealistic lives, so that she would not feel like she’s missing out.

“It’s kind of like social media [had] been weaved into my daily life,” Murphy said.

Young adults say that certain social media platforms increase their depression and anxiety, according to a report published in 2015 by the Young Health Movement and the Royal Society for Public Health.

“I am a huge believer the stuff that you look at and then stuff that you listen to affects your mood and affects how you are. There have been times when I have been very depressed, and I have been looking at the sad Instagram quotes and then everything [goes] downhill,” Murphy said.

The same report states that young girls, teens and young women are more likely to have issues with their body image if they use social media.

“I feel like a lot of my old anxiety [and] depression really came from obsessing over social media and comparing myself. Ever since I really stopped caring what people thought, I’ve just noticed more happiness with my own life and more of a will to live meaningfully,” Achertof said.