Firstly, there is an assumption that all social media is bad social media which isn’t true anymore. In recent years ‘Study tube’ has appeared, which is a trend of Youtubers, like 'Unjaded Jade' posting videos of useful revision tips and documenting their own educational experience. This is useful for a number of reasons, for students who are not from a particularly academic family it can be a huge help to watch the experience of another person starting university or taking the same exams as them, to make the process seem less alien and provide comfort which they may not be able to seek at home if none of their family went to university. There can of course be criticisms of this, as some claim it to just be another form of procrastination but there is no doubt that ‘Study tube’ can be useful for students for whom the concept of academia can seem daunting.
"In the 2017 general elections, social media was a huge part of the campaign"
Outside the realm of academia, social media can help students engage in wider debates and political discussions. It can raise awareness about registering to vote and for example in the 2017 general elections, social media was a huge part of the campaign and it is one of the reasons that a lot more students and young people voted in that election which demonstrates that social media can have a positive effect on students as it is a more accessible way for them to participate in politics.
"Instagram is now restricting the way in which social media influencers can market weight loss products"
Furthermore, one huge criticism of social media is that it can be psychologically damaging for students and young people in general, particularly young women who can receive unhealthy messages about their bodies. Instagram is flooded with adverts from influencers about so called “Detox teas” meant to help weight loss but these products are criticised for creating an unhealthy body shaming culture. However, there have been campaigns to counter this and Instagram is now restricting the way in which social media influencers can market weight loss products.
"Social media is improving to become a force for good in the lives of young people and students"
There has also been a series of movements on social media to combat the unhealthy atmosphere around body image such as the ‘I weigh’ movement ran by actress Jameela Jamil which seeks to value other things beside appearance. This counter movement is a sign that social media is improving to become a force for good in the lives of young people and students. It’s also possible to argue that these issues are not simply with social media but with popular culture in general, as in the 1990s these issues were prevalent in magazines and models who promoted an unhealthy body image so the blame for this is not confined to social media.
So whilst social media has its problems, it can also be a force for good in the lives of students. It can help students in their studies and engage them in politics but this can only happen if social media platforms and influencers are held to account so that the negative aspects are controlled and it can be a welcoming atmosphere for students and young people.