Many students are constantly checking their social media profiles. There are several ways that social media use can benefit or harm you. Graphic by Emily Wight.
It’s time for you to use the internet to become a better you.
There are countless positive aspects of using social media and the internet, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about the harmful effects of it as well. Considering the way you use the internet is going to be the most beneficial way to ensure you are not harming yourself, but rather you are benefiting from what the internet has to offer.
Here is a list of questions to ask yourself about your internet usage:
- Is this boosting my mood in any way?
- What type of feeling does the way I use the internet give me?
- Is this making me become a better me?
- Am I missing out on life experiences because I am sucked into the internet too often?
- Is what I am doing on the internet keeping me safe?
Ways to ensure the internet is boosting your mood
Do a social media following cleanse. Unfollow the people you are constantly comparing yourself to and realize this is not good for your mental health. Follow people you relate to and enjoy looking at their posts. If you love cooking, follow chefs on Tik Tok, foodies on Instagram, and bookmark a couple of your favorite food blogs.
James Stein, assistant professor of communication studies, said: “If we approach social media expecting negativity and we interact with negative things, it is going to negatively affect our lives. So if we can actively approach it with a positive mentality that can help affect our lives positively. There are some really good helpful folks on social media platforms who have dedicated a lot of time to exuding positivity. “
Use the internet to connect with and uplift others. Use it to your advantage and create a positive environment for yourself and those you engage with online. Utilizing apps like Zoom, FaceTime and Marco Polo will boost your mood as you are engaging with the people you love.
“Learn to balance your time, kind of take an inventory on yourself and analyze if you’re spending too much time on social media [and] how it is impacting your mental health,” said Holly Linford, part-time instructor of communication studies.
How to know if the internet is bringing you down or lifting you up
Consider how you feel after each time you do a scroll through social media or the internet. Creating a positive atmosphere through your internet usage will make a difference.
“If you find that you are being impacted negatively by looking at all of this negative information on social media then it might be time to back off a little bit and spend your time doing more positive things,” Linford said.
Commenting and spreading positivity through the internet and social media is a way to lift yourself and others up. Think about how you feel when someone comments something nice about you, now do that for others. Be the person who spreads gratitude and kindness through the internet.
“There is data that shows that a lot of what we do in the online space is going to have chemical reactions in our brain related to things like serotonin and dopamine,” Stein said. “Social media provides us with an avenue to help us plan our lives and live in a way that we can actually sort of be the best version of ourselves.”
How can the internet help you become a better you?
There is so much you can learn on the internet, and whether you choose to use this to your advantage or not is purely up to you. Learning how to cook, dance, do math, create jewelry, and even take care of a dog is easier than ever because of the internet. All of these things are expanding your knowledge of life which will, in return, help you become a better you.
“Sometimes you just want to turn your brain off and scroll through social media, but there should also be a time where we are using our social media to learn [and] to gain knowledge and not just using it, but using it correctly,” Stein said.
Becoming a better you is not just about learning more about life but also making more meaningful connections. Bond with people over social media, talk with others about what you are seeing on the internet.
“As a professor, you need to be active on social media and understand the college culture as it relates to social media so that you can connect with your students,” Stein said. “I think as professors connect with their students over things like social media, students will, in return, come to the understanding that social media is an educational tool in many ways.”
There are a plethora of benefits to living in an active online world. You just have to ensure you are using it correctly to gain all the benefits you can.