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As a college student, it is possible that most of your days are taken up by class, homework, studying, and sleep, but how are college students spending the hours that they have available for themselves? Well, the majority of them are spending that time looking at a screen. A study from Baylor University found that college students are spending 8-10 hours on their phones —and that number is higher when you include time spent watching TV and on the computer.

Personally, my average screen time each day is 6.5 hours. I spend about 75% of that time on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. After talking to a few of my friends, I found that that one shared a similar average screen time, another spent about 8 hours per day, and another spent about 5 hours per day on their phone.

Often the easiest choice for entertainment is to spend our free time on our phones — it’s free, right at our fingertips, and at its surface seems gratifying. However, when we look deeper into the emotions we feel while on and off social media, we quickly realize that it has detrimental effects on our mental health. A recent study by The American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, conducted on adolescents between 12-17 years old, showed that the more time they spent on smartphones before bed, the more low-quality sleep and higher rates of depression the teens experienced.

When we go on social media, we see perfect pictures of others living what seems to be amazing lives, and we are stuck comparing ourselves to them. What a lot of people fail to realize though, is that social media is almost always just a snapshot of the highlights of that person’s life — not the ordinary or bad parts. The truth is that everyone has difficult aspects of their life, but we don’t want the world to see those parts, so we simply do not show them. It is easy to see other people’s social media pages and think that your life is less fun or romantic than theirs, but chances are, it’s actually not all it seems to be.

Let this article serve as a reminder that while social media can be helpful for connecting with friends and family, we shouldn’t focus too much on comparing our lives to others based on pictures and short videos. I am going to make an effort each and every day to spend less time on social media platforms and more time doing things that actually bring me joy and relieve stress, not cause more.

Colleen Green

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