Is social media ruining your university experience?

From club toilet selfies to that horrible feeling of FOMO, Natasha Preskey wonders whether social media is such a force for good

Whether it’s adding your new flatmates on Facebook, creating a LinkedIn profile in pre-graduation panic or receiving a disheartening 3/10 on "Rate Your Shag", all students’ experience of university has been affected in some small way by social media.

When information on everything from coursework to club nights is circulated online, being a student without Facebook profile can prove problematic. However, when friends say things like “if a night out isn’t on Facebook, it hasn’t happened” with however much drunken irony, it begs the question whether, rather than making student living easier, social media is actually a barrier to fun.

Of course, there are advantages. Being a click away from your sixth-form buddies is a pretty comforting prospect, especially when you’re homesick or tired of explaining to your bemused flatmates that being from Birmingham doesn’t make you northern (or in my case that, no, I don’t need a passport to return to the Isle of Wight). There is also no denying that Facebook can be an indispensable tool when organising parties, or checking last minute that the word count really was only a thousand words…

But when nights out are often spent dodging the camera or cooped up in the loos taking an endless stream of unflattering selfies, rather than just dancing ourselves into a sweaty heap, then what’s the point? The unspoken pressure to maintain a fun, successful persona online often exacerbates the feelings of loneliness and inadequacy that many students experience when starting university.

Even if you’re having the time of your life, the temptation to compare yourself with people from back home is still present. Friends will sometimes even express concern that someone else from home isn’t enjoying university, “because there isn’t much about it on their Facebook”. This is how great an indicator of happiness and success our online presence is often seen to be. A German study has found that feelings of envy caused by browsing your friends’ Facebook activity were often so damaging that they could “undermine users’ life satisfaction”.

These feelings are easily heightened in an environment full of intelligent, ambitious people who are constantly reminded to sell themselves. Meg Barker,a psychotherapist and Open University lecturer, suggests that social media can help shy students to meet new people, but also raises concerns that the selectively positive nature of self-presentation online can affect students’ self-esteem.

She says: “This can create a false source of comparison for students who might see how well everybody else appears to be doing, and who may judge themselves negatively on the basis of this.

"Don't compare your inside to somebody else's outside: remember that a lot of people only share positive aspects of their experience on social media, but they probably have lots of tough times too.”

That is not to say that total online honesty offers some kind of solution. The potential to ruin our careers before they’ve even begun is great, with studies showing that even images of drinking can spark a negative reaction in employers. A survey conducted by Eurocom Worldwide found that one in five tech firms had rejected a job application because of something on a candidate’s social media profile.

Conversely, there are just as many encouraging tales of graduates winning jobs via social media, and several positive reasons to use it in numerous aspects of student life. Our relationship with social networks is by no means black and white, and logging off permanently is not necessarily a desirable, or viable, solution to the problems that websites such as Facebook can pose.

I am a self-confessed Facebook addict. But just like Sambuca and time spent in the library – you can have too much of a good thing. While the prospect of being separated from my smartphone gives me the shakes, I think what we need is to limit our contact with social media, and pledge to enjoy the best years of our lives first hand, and not from behind a keyboard or camera lens.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: 1st Line IT Support - Surrey - £24,000

£20000 - £24000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Support Helpd...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Audit Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Audit Graduate Opportunities ar...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect