It has often been said that social media can be a blessing and a curse. Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram were supposedly created to bring us all closer together. Family is able to keep in touch with out of state relatives. Friends are able to stay connected no matter where they are. Pictures allow us to still be part of the moment even though we can’t physically be there. Those all sound like great reasons to continue to create virtual platforms that only allow for “connection” via an electronic device. However, the rising anxiety and depression rate, a society that is plagued by loneliness and ultimately one that feels more disconnected than ever says something completely different. We’ve become so consumed with all these new ways to connect that we’ve forgotten how well the old ways work. Face to face contact, actually hearing someone’s voice and having real life conversations are so good for not only your mental fitness, but your soul.

For college students, tangible connections are so important. It’s easy to feel lonely when you’ve stepped out on your own (without the immediate support of your parent(s)), left your family/friends and familiarity of home and the primary way of making new connections is in your dorm room via a computer, ipad, iPhone or some sort of electronic device. As such, it’s very important that you are intentional about taking a break from social media. Below are some tips on how you can control your social media intake instead of allowing it to consume you.

  1. Social Media Shut Down: Give yourself a social media cut off time every night. In our family, we typically shut down social media at 9pm. This means there’s absolutely no social media after 9pm. This allows your mind to slow down before bed time. Instead of filling it with whatever you’re comparing yourself to (I know you do it; we all do) on social media, fill it with something positive.
  2. Social Breaks: Take a social break every day. I know college schedules can be rather hectic, but give yourself at least 20 minutes per day to do something that requires actual contact with people. You can take a walk outside and say hello to your peers who pass by. If you have more time, visit a neighbor’s room in your dorm and have an actual conversation. Have lunch with a friend or someone you’d like to get to know better.
  3. No Texting Allowed: I know I just scared most of you to death, but don’t panic. I don’t mean that you can never text again. I just mean that at least once per month, I want you to actually CALL a friend or relative that you miss. And yes, I do mean pick up the phone, dial the number and talk.
  4. Get Involved: Join a club or two. It’s easier to form more meaningful connections when you bond over a common cause or belief rather than homework or partying. Getting involved also ensures that you will have a designated time each week or month to work on building those connections.
  5. Be Patient: I know that social media has gotten us all used to instant gratification, but developing meaningful connections takes time. The key is to be consistently intentional about building real life connections.

Avoid living your life out on social media. Become intentional about developing real connections with people instead of just connecting with them through an Instgram gram pic or Facebook post. Believe it or not, there IS a difference.