BY KIMBERLY BAUTISTA, Class of 2017 —
The sound of a sudden buzz on one’s smartphone alerts the human senses that there is a notification whether it be a retweet, Facebook or Instagram like, or a snapchat from someone. And it is that buzz that is keeping college students from paying attention to the present.
Here at Saint Peter’s University, students are constantly looking down at their phones, while they are walking to class, in the middle of a lecture, during lunch hour or simply outside on campus while crossing the street.
Sophomore biology major Diana Veliz, is a user of Snapchat and checks her phone daily to update her story, which is a way to show her friends what she’s up to. Additionally, she uses the mobile app to view other stories that her friends posted and/or send snaps to them as well.
“I look at my Snapchat more than 15 times a day, I know that sounds like a crazy number but I can’t help it sometimes, this mobile app is distracting but it’s a form of instant gratification. The longest you can view a snap is 10 seconds and if you don’t view it, it just sits there.”
According to Statista, an online statistics database, the leading social media network is Facebook. Facebook reached up to 1,590 million active users as of April 2016. Instagram comes in second at 400 million active users, while Twitter has 320 million, followed by Snapchat with 200 million.
Communication and Media Culture professor Fatima Shaik, who teaches at Saint Peter’s University, isn’t surprised at these statistics.
“The growth of technology doesn’t surprise me that it grows that quickly. People like to be connected with each other and the fact that someone figured that out with technology makes sense,” she said.
Shaik also mentions how social media was already predicted by a philosopher of communication theory and provides her perspective on social media.
“Marshall McLuhan foresaw this happening, which is how the term ‘the global village’ came about. Social media is distracting in the classroom, absolutely. Outside of the classroom, it’s a tool we can use so in that case, it’s not a distraction. I check my social media all the time. Recently, I checked it in the morning before I went to work. It’s a very addictive, rich medium, it’s compelling.”
However, a mother of two, Eufronia Cruz, is concerned with her daughter’s addiction to social media.
“When I come home, I find my college student daughter glued on social media and as a parent, you want to take away their phones just to have a moment with them. It affects the way the students study or the way they run errands. Having said that, I think it depends on the college student too because if they manage their time and choose to have control of their usage, then social media doesn’t have to be a distraction but an escape.”
She also adds that the time spent on social media has a lot to do with the individual’s age.
“I think it’s a matter of age. Yes, younger people like college students would be more distracted by social media. I just created a Facebook account a year ago and I love that I get to reconnect with my friends from college and even high school. It’s a great way to express yourself but I think the less responsibilities you have, the more time you have for social media.”
According to Statista, as of January 2016, the leading number of Facebook users were between ages 20 and 29 years old. Meanwhile, those 30 to 39 came in second with a 21 percent share.
Kaessandrielle Viray, a junior biology major at William Paterson University, admits to using social media during every activity possible.
“The use of social media has come to the point where we have to use it while eating, on our way to bed, or during a conversation with someone in person and even in the bathroom! It’s crazy how people have taken social media to this level….it’s definitely an addiction and a distraction.”
Meanwhile, sophomore mechanical engineering major Kevin Penaga, from Rutgers University, finds that social media is basically a necessity at this point.
“I do think social media is a distraction but we also have to look at it in another light. It’s become a necessity for others, for example, those who are going to work for social media driven companies. They are going to need to know the inner workings of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. The good thing is college students already know social media like a book, we’re constantly on it, it makes us feel empowered and we crave it.”
According to Statista, businesses are taking note and are investing heavily in social media marketing from 86.2 percent in 2013 to 89.4 percent in 2017.
Social media has proven to be a rising platform for people who have managed to cash in on their social media’s popularity–these people are called social influencers. Some of these social influencers even become celebrities like Michelle Phan and Tyler Oakley, who both have used Youtube as their social media platform to promote themselves as well as their products.
According to StatSheep, a website to check Youtube channel statistics, Michelle Phan will have a projected earning of $3,139,107 from May 16 to September 16 while Tyler Oakley is at $1,433,683.
Whether one is gracing their Twitter page with thousands of followers or showcasing the hundreds of likes their Facebook photo receives only within minutes, social media can be both a social gathering and a personal escape.
“I think social media is extremely addictive but it also establishes a strong sense of community. It expresses a sense of who you are based on what you show others. You share your thoughts, experiences, pictures and people listen. If you want to be heard or want a difference to be made, social media can be a platform for that. It brings people from any part of the world together and that in itself is impressive,” Wanye Jones, a junior business major at NJIT said.