BY CASSIE TULECKI
It’s almost unanimous; if you are part of the Net Generation (1980-1989) or iGeneration (1990-1999) and own a smartphone, you are probably addicted to social media. It is everywhere and accessible on just about everything.
“I’m probably on my phone way too often, probably half an hour out of every hour,” said Sydney Thain, a second-year biotechnology technician student.
Technology is taking over the younger generation’s lives, but is this a bad thing? With so many platforms, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers, it’s hard not to be sucked into the social media world.
“I’m on Facebook and Instagram maybe three hours a day if it’s a school day,” said Ashlyn Thompson, a second-year community and justice services student.
Speaking with students on Conestoga College’s Doon campus it is clear that accessing social media sites on their phones throughout the day is a priority. Many say they can’t go for even an hour without checking in with their favourite site.
“Honestly … I spend about 50 per cent of my day on my phone, sometimes more,” said Elise Hummel, a third-year educational assistant student. “I open Facebook on my phone over 100 times a day, and Instagram about 40 times a day.”
The most popular sites students use are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with Snapchat coming in fourth. Many claim to be on at least one of these sites throughout class and on breaks. Any spare moment they have is used to update statuses, check for “likes,” comment on other’s photos or upload the very popular “selfie” shot.
“I check my phone every minute of the day when I have free time, kind of sad really,” said Matthew O’Loan, a first-year electrical construction maintenance student.
Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, wrote an article titled Our Social Media Obsession. In it he said, “It appears that people are using their technology for a combination of gaining some pleasure and from avoiding anxiety about not knowing what is going on at every moment on every electronic communication platform including social media.”
People who use social media sites such as Facebook tend to find themselves getting anxious when they do not receive enough “likes” on something they have posted. When you get “likes” on a new profile picture you upload to your profile, you receive an instant feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
The reverse side of not receiving “likes” or comments makes the poster feel almost depressed and challenges them to post something that will attract more attention. This becomes a vicious circle that is hard to break.
“Just watch people in the world around you,” Rosen said. “If you are watching a young person who is not looking at his or her phone keep watching. Soon that phone will come out of the pocket or purse, most likely without having gotten an alert or notification but being driven by a combination of pleasure and anxiety.”
The physical act of taking your phone out during the day and checking what’s happening in the social media world gives users a sense of calm and routine. It makes you feel connected and lets you know what’s happening around you at every hour of the day. But when does it become an obsession? How long can you survive without checking Facebook?
“I can’t, it’s so bad,” Hummel said. “Yesterday I went without it for seven hours. Seven hours! I went kind of crazy.”
Being connected through social media sites can be a great tool for staying in touch with friends, family and the community. But, there’s a point when it takes over users’ lives, becoming an obsession. When this happens counselling is recommended.