Social media threatens the college student’s most important resource

Sleep is such a glorious word. “Five more minutes!” is a familiar refrain on weekday mornings, especially when a pesky 8 a.m. class awaits.

Sleep deprivation has always been a problem on college campuses. The all-nighter is practically a rite of passage after all. Big papers and tests are always happening, not to mention late-night meetings. The all-nighter has become the norm, not the exception, for some students. All one has to do is check Facebook at 2 a.m. to see that college students are definitely night owls. Social media is negatively affecting the average college student’s sleep.

On a night where there is a pressing deadline there are a variety of ways to procrastinate, and social media seems to be the best method to many on campus. Social media is just plain convenient. It is so easy to check text messages, Twitter, Facebook, gossip sites and e-mail. With a few clicks of a mouse, that philosophy paper is nearly forgotten.

But what about those other nights…the ones where there are no pressing deadlines. Why are college students staying up so late for no reason at all?

Social media is addictive. There is no doubt about that. A Skype date scheduled to last 20 minutes can easily go on for two hours. Time flies when you are having fun, after all. An average student’s day is just so busy that late nights may be the only way to get some breathing room. Facebooking for an hour is a good way to veg out after a long day, but is it really better than sleeping?

Why is social media so crucial to the average college student that they are willing to lose precious sleep for it? There are so many people to keep up with in the average college student’s life that social media is the only way to learn everything you “need” to know about those friends that you do not see often. Also, there is so much information being thrown at college students these days, that social media is the only way possible to stay in the loop. Trying to keep up in the “popularity” game requires knowing all the gossip, not matter what time it happens. Those students going to bed at a reasonable hour may feel like they are going to miss something important. There is also the worry that if someone makes an effort to send a text message at 3 a.m., that it must be time-sensitive. No one wants to look like a bad friend or family member and reputations are becoming more important than health.

So how can the problem be fixed? Responsibility is the dreaded word here. There are always exceptions 8212; a friend’s heartbreak, an emergency, a long-lost love 8212; but in general if that conversation can wait until morning, let it. Try hitting the snooze button on your cellphone or computer one night, instead of on your alarm the next morning. You might even feel good without the coffee.

Emily Sears is a sophomore journalism major from Rockwall.