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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at JMU chapter.

Time in between classes goes by in a flash when social media grabs our attention and holds us captive with each scroll. It may seem fun and even informational in the moment, but we often feel guilty for not doing homework or seeing friends instead. These mindless activities actually help us unwind after stressful classes, but the constant use of social media can actually lead to negative long-term effects if not managed.

According to the Potter Textbook, overuse of technology hinders the brain development of young children and adults. Specifically, children’s emotional development can be negatively affected. Most 5-year-old children have watched around 6,000 hours of television. The overstimulation and fast-paced visuals prevent children from reflecting on the information which eventually leads to deterioration in their ability to imagine and develop opinions. Over time, this also leads to desensitization leading to the need for even more stimulation. If 5-year-olds have watched over 6,000 hours of television, imagine the effects on a student who has spent 18-22 years watching television, social media, and games.

This source also found that the average person reports spending over 70% of their day on some form of social media. This can lead to social-cocooning which is the term used to describe the situation where many people are in a room, yet each is absorbed in their own technological world preventing physical social interaction. As technology has developed, reported “happiness” has decreased.”

Social media is not all bad, but it can contribute to unhappiness. It is a convenient way to connect with friends as well as unwind after a long day of classes. However, we need to be aware of the negative effects and make an effort to not use social media as an excuse to avoid problems and stress. Obsessing how others look on Instagram posts rather than completing homework that is overdue is neither productive nor beneficial. The beginning of the spring semester is a fresh start to do well in classes and stick to New Year resolutions. I encourage everyone to add to their list of resolutions. Become more aware of how much time is being spent on social media and why you are using it. An hour or two on your phone every day to unwind is perfectly fine, but hours obsessing about whether someone has replied to a Snap Chat would be better utilized with friends, new hobbies, or simply self-care. Many people are guilty of this bad habit. Not to worry, there are ways to remedy it.

The pressure to reply to snap chats or keep up with your favorite influencers is overwhelming. Some have found that simply deleting social media has greatly helped with anxiety and stress. Others have downloaded apps that lock their social media apps after a certain amount of time (such as allowing an hour of Instagram each day) which brings awareness to the amount of time spent on the app and therefore prevents the passive-scrolling that eats time away. Another solution is simply working to be aware of your thoughts as you are on social media. If you find yourself comparing yourself to others, it may be beneficial to remind yourself that each of us is unique and amazing in our own way. There are many influencers that post themselves both with makeup/editing as well as without. Reminding yourself that social media is a controlled glimpse of someone’s life through a collection of photos and videos that often only show the best parts may also be helpful. Most importantly, social media should never be harmful to your mental health, so whichever method works for you, do it! Take breaks and allow yourself to unwind whether that be on or off social media. You have control of your social media, it does not control you or your mental health.

I am a freshman JMU nursing student. I enjoy playing soccer, playing with any and all animals, writing/reading, and watching the Office (many people would agree with me… its the best show ever).