We can’t deny that the digital age is now very much a social media age. It’s a world so many of us feel undeniably connected to, but also rather isolated and lost within. TikTok, Clubhouse (heard of that?), Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat…every young person lives within this world. Socialising, networking, learning, communicating – social media is the place to be. Instagram now boasts 909.8 million followers…and counting as I type. However, as much as the wonderful world of social media has led to a whole host of opportunities, it is no surprise that there is a rise in mental health concerns for young people.
Why? The constant exposure to media, real and fake news, aesthetically perfect pictures, ‘on trend’ videos, and a lack of real human connection has taken its toll. Plus, as much as social media keeps us ‘connected’ there is real lack of connection. Of course, for many students social media interaction is a great way to learn, meet new people and make conversations if it’s not something that comes easily person to person – especially in a lockdown world. However, for many students social media exposure is affecting their confidence, relationships and day to day practical activities. So, how do we fix it?
Many people jump to the conclusion of switching off completely. Although possible, it’s not necessary or even desirable for students – there is still a lot to enjoy, from new connections, skills and a great way to learn. What students do need, however, is the ability to be digitally resilient.
How to be digitially resilient when using social media
Social Marketing Freelancer, Aria Antoniou, remembers student life quite clearly, here Aria shares some great tips for students to become more digitally resilient on a daily basis:
1. What would be your 3-5 tips to manage screen time on a daily basis?
Lock your apps for a certain time period. You can do this via your settings -> screen time -> downtime (on an iPhone, but all phones likely have a similar feature). I use it to lock my apps from 11pm – 8.30am everyday, so I no longer wake up and automatically check my phone. It really helps you take control, which is a key part of managing your digital relationships.
Create a REALISTIC morning routine. It’s easy to wake up early and scroll. Before you know it, you’re late! Set your alarm, and check in with yourself, have a nice breakfast, exercise, meditate – whatever it is to spend time with yourself. TikTok is always going to be there.
Put ‘do not disturb’ mode ON at all times (or during a certain period I.e. during study times) – you can add your family or close friends and work colleagues to favourites, which allows contact from these people.
As simple as it sounds, leave your phone in another room. Are you really going to travel back downstairs just to check Instagram for 2 minutes?
Listen to Podcasts. I find that they’re best listened to during walks or whilst doing something that requires little brain effort, for example whilst I’m cooking or baking, cleaning my bedroom, even eating.
2. How can students make their time on screen positive and productive?
My most important tip: UNFOLLOW AND MUTE ACCOUNTS YOU DO NOT LIKE. We compare ourselves subconsciously all the time, so keep your feeds free of anything that brings you negativity. The button is there, make use of it!
Another tip would be to use your phone smarter. For the Apple users, there are some incredibly useful features. Check out the ‘shortcuts’ app and search the gallery! The reminders app is also perfect to keep you on top of daily tasks. Use your phone as a tool to manage your day – don’t let it manage you.
3. How would you advise managing time spent on Instagram and TikTok?
Turn all notifications off. If you’re not prompted to check your phone, you’ll definitely ease off a little. I found that turning off Instagram notifications such as the ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘lives’ free’d up my phone from unnecessary disruptions.
Another tip would be to check your screen time at the end of the day it’s a little bit daunting and can be disheartening but it does make you aware of your behaviour, which is the first step to all progress.
4. What might be the signs of ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to social media?
Never letting go of your phone. I found myself doing ordinary tasks with my phone in one hand all the time, like making the bed!
Unproductivity. Tasks taking longer than required to complete is a huge sign
Losing focus easily, for example whilst studying you may constantly be thinking about your phone
Unable to do things without your phone, such as eating, even going to the bathroom…
5. Would you say there is anything parents or other adults can do to help with digital resilience?
Be a role model: use your phone around children when necessary, as opposed to sitting and endlessly scrolling yourself.
Learn about the social media platforms. It’s really important to be completely aware on what your child is doing on social media and the harm it can do if used inefficiently. Stay in the loop as much as possible with new upcoming platforms
Aria’s tips are simple, practical and perhaps what you need as a student to remind you that social media is purposeful, but only when and how you need it to be. You can build the practical skills necessary to be digitally resilient!
Aria Antoniou completed her degree in marketing and went on to manage the Social Media strategy for a global tech company. She now works independently designing and implementing social media strategies for different brands.