Millennials know one thing: a life with access to social media. In today’s world, college students are connected on a level that no prior generation could compete. This affects almost every aspect of their lives.
According to a report from UCLA’s annual survey, today’s college students are spending less time partying than those in the past. Instead, they are interacting more often through social media. The Atlantic reported in 2014 that the research found 18 percent, compared to the 37.9 percent in 1987, of incoming freshmen socialized at least 16 hours per week, and 38.8 percent socialized five hours or less, when in 1987 it was 18.1 percent.
The survey shows that college students are spending less time with friends, or partying, and more time on social media.
“When I was coming up, we didn’t have all the social media constantly in front of us, with different things to distract us,” Director of the Plattsburgh State Center for Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion J.W Wiley said. He also teaches a class called “Examining the Dimensions of Cool,” which focuses on the aspects of culture that influence what young people consider “cool.”
Wiley said social media has impacted our society on “profound levels,” and that when he scrolls his newsfeeds, he always finds something that jumps out at him that he is interested in reading.
“It has really changed the game,” said Wiley. “I could almost argue that students in some majors have more time to play because they don’t have to go to the library to do research in that there are so many ways to find it now.”
Reported by The Atlantic, lead author of the study, Kevin Eagan, said they found that students are now going to college for different reasons than generations in the past.
“Years ago, it may have been wanting to become a cultured person and having a fulfilling social life that motivated students,” Eagan said. “Now we’re seeing more concerns from them about finance while enrolled in college and getting a high-paying job after graduating.”
Social media use has been on the rise since the technology became available, and now students have complete access and connection to people near and far, something that could be called a social life to Millennials.
Wiley said on a college campus, where everyone is connected, if you go out, you never know who is watching. Someone could even be recording you, even without your knowledge, and it could end up on social media, again without your knowledge.
“There is a heightened level of paranoia that didn’t exist 20 to 30 years ago,” he said, “which makes some students more cautious and methodical.”
He said that could be a factor for students spending less time partying and having less face-to-face interaction when analyzing this study.
Senior psychology major Sarah Randall said people go out to hang out with their friends and to be a part of something.
“I don’t think people go out less,” Randall said. “I don’t think people should care about what other people think.”
Both in person and on social media, people have the power to say whatever they are feeling, which could be beneficial or not.
“I think it would be wise for students to seek out interests, to grow and expand through social media,” Wiley said. “The beauty of social media are all of the connections you can make and maintain. Without social media, those relationships go away.”
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