Are you addicted to social media?

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Social media: the means that many of us use to connect with friends, both close and far away. How is this affecting our lives short and long term?

You see it all the time on campus: students walking between classes with their phones, probably texting someone or checking on one of their many social networking sites. When they get home, it is highly likely that they are checking their feeds again.

Huffington Post said that Americans tend to check their social media at least once an hour. They reported six things that are easier to resist than social media: alcohol, cigarettes, sex, talking out loud, caffeine and porn.

Granted, social media is a much better alternative to be addicted to than the list above, but it is still a frightening thought.

As of May 2013, 72 percent of adult Internet consumers use some kind of social media. Out of that group, 89 percent are ages 18-29, which the bulk of the students here fall into that age range.

Vegor Pedersen, communication specialist for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and professor for the communication department’s social media class, says that social media is like personalized entertainment. Your feed is like flipping through channels but the reporters are your friends and people that you specifically want to see.

With that connection, it is no wonder why people are so attached to social media.

The older generation sees the extensive use as an addiction, but in reality they just don’t understand how it works. Face-to-face communication is not used as much as it used to be and they don’t get it. Pedersen says, “This new medium is just different and not inherently bad.”

I agree with him, though we do not need to make it the central focus of our days. Your daily routine is probably somewhat similar to mine: Facebook is the last thing you look at before you cannot keep your eyes open anymore and the first thing you see in the morning. Then you check your feed frequently during the day.

There are good ways and less good ways to use social media, but I don’t think the consistent scrolling falls into the good category. Periodically, that isn’t bad. Our use needs to be controlled though.

When asked how we could use social media productively, Pedersen said, “The smartest thing you can do on social media is use it to tell stories.” Whether the stories are about yourself or others, social media is good for helping others to connect with you through the accounts you post.

Many companies and news stations are on social media now. If we use it properly, we can be more aware of what is going on in the world. By following a variety of sources, even those that you do not typically agree with, then you can be well rounded and not limited.

I have found that social media, especially Facebook, is a good way to keep in connection with many people that I don’t see often at the same time. If I want to know what they are doing in their lives, I can look them up and check their pages. By posting what we are doing and major things in our lives, then others can keep up with us too.

As college students, we need to remember that businesses nowadays check our presences on social media when we are applying for positions with their company. Keep this in mind before you post that questionable status or picture.

Social media is on an uphill trend with no sign of ending. So learn how to keep your use monitored now before things keep escalating.