Posted on April 7, 2014

Social media becoming
main source of communication

Students everywhere can be found tweeting, updating, hash tagging, posting and sharing information with thousands of followers—some friends, some unknown admirers. Yet this trend comes with both benefits and consequences.

Social media has become the common means for communication among peers, Laramie County Community College student Kylie Foster said. It allows people all over the world to keep in contact with one another, she said.

“I use Facebook and Skype to talk to my best friend in Spain,” Foster said. “We’d find other ways to talk, but social media makes it so much easier.”

Even though social media was intended for the primary use of communication, LCCC Safely Officer Juan Maldonado is concerned with the amount of information that students are oversharing on these sites.

“Putting too much stuff on Facebook is going to affect things like your credit worthiness,” Maldonado said. “Identity theft is also becoming an issue through putting too much of yourself out there.”

A current controversy is an employer’s right to have access to an applicant’s Facebook page, LCCC’s campus safety director, James Crosby, said. Access to a job candidate’s social media profiles can be now be used as a condition of employment, Crosby said.

Social media like Facebook or Twitter comes with options to make groups or likable pages to distribute information for a particular entity. LCCC is no exception when it comes to using this popular promotion source.

Sarah Hannes, LCCC E-recruiter and Web specialist, uses social media daily to promote events, host giveaways and inform students of happenings around campus.

“This especially benefits prospective students,” Hannes explained. “By making posts and showing them what’s going on around campus, they can kind of get a better feel for the campus.”

Social media pages also benefit current students by letting them know deadlines that are coming up and events that are going on, Hannes said. Students are always online, Hannes said, so social media allows them a chance to find different resources they might need.

“We have likes from students, community members, even parents,” Hannes said. “Social media is a great place to be informed for everyone.”

While social media can be used as a helpful benefit for students, it can also be used as a serious distraction, student Foster pointed out.

Social media is a distraction for some

“Social media follows me everywhere,” Foster said. “Because I have a smartphone, it is a constant distraction for me.”
Counselor at LCCC Eirin Grimes agreed that students use social media as a time-waster, something to distract from their academics. Grimes said from a counseling perspective social media could be used as a coping mechanism for students.

“When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the homework in front of you, you might choose to do something else that feels more rewarding to you,” Grimes said. This can be reflected in a student’s choice to get on Facebook instead of do his homework, Grimes explained.

However, LCCC social media expert Hannes said LCCC offers a form of social media that could be an academic benefit to students.
LCCC has ownership of a private Facebook app that is exclusive LCCC students, in which students can post questions, sell books, or join groups directly related to LCCC, Hannes said. It can even be helpful for instructors who want to reach out to students who might have questions about a certain subject.

“I can set up keywords within the app, so that when someone posts using a keyword that relates to an instructor, the instructor will get an email alert about that comment,” Hannes explained.

It’s not the distraction aspect that worries Officer Maldonado, but the negative interactions that can often take place.

“Social media can be used as a tool for intimidation,” Maldonado said. Social media has made it easier for cyber bullying to take place, Maldonado said, and has made the distribution of exposing information about someone easier.

Despite many of the dangers of social media, there are no signs of social media use declining any time soon, according to user of social media and student Foster.

“I think that society in general has begun to rely so heavily on technology,” Foster said, “ that I don’t think that social media will fade away anytime soon.”

Social media does not allow face-to-face interaction

It’s a huge benefit to young people, Foster said. Many students use social media to learn about the news, find out about new jobs or keep in contact with long-distance friends, Foster explained.

Not only is it a benefit for students outside of school, but for Hannes, social media is a great way to get students involved at college.

“My favorite part is just connecting with students,” Hannes said. “Through social media I get to answer student questions, let them know what’s happening around campus, and get the word out about what a great place LCCC is.”

From an interpersonal perspective, Grimes said she agreed as a means of communication social media could be beneficial to students. However, students can become more intimate with people faster than they would if they were meeting in person, Grimes said.

“What happens with social media is that we might share deep information right away,” Grimes said. “This is because we are not getting the nonverbal stimuli from face-to-face interaction.”

Grimes compared face-to-face interaction with peeling away layers of an onion. Slowly, one can find out information about someone, and depending on their nonverbal cues, decide if he is safe enough to share more information with, Grimes explained. We don’t get these clues over the Internet, she said.

Director of campus safety Crosby and Officer Maldonado agreed that social media is a double-edged sword. The user of social media is often the one who puts himself at risk, Maldonado said.

“It’s hard to get it back,” Maldonado said about the mass amount of information that students are putting out there. “Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.”