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Social Media DOs and DON’Ts for College Freshmen

Karen Sobel-Lojeski​, PhD

Karen Sobel-Lojeski​, PhD​ is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University. Her research focuses on​ the impact of technology on people, including how technology impacts educational and business performance as well as overall well-being at the cognitive and emotional levels. Dr. Lojeski’s research draws on social science, neuroscience, cognitive science, economics, industrial and organizational psychology as well as innovation, creativity and contemplation research. Below, Sobel-Lojeski​ offers social media tips for college freshmen.

Top ​Four DON’Ts:

  1. DON’T substitute being online for making friends in flesh and blood.  Get out and start to meet new people in person!  It’s the best way to make friends (often life-long friends), experience a lively social life and begin to build a network of contacts that will serve you throughout your professional life.  Even if it feels awkward and weird in the beginning, the face-to-face social skills you’ll develop interacting with your friends, classmates and professors in college lay the foundation of your interpersonal skills and will help shape who you are in million conversations to come. Make it a priority to speak F2F!
  2. DON’T always stay in your room to study  – even if you’re a nerdy introvert (like I was). Get out of your room, go to the library, hang out in the student union or find a study group.  If you must wear your ear buds for quiet music or to avoid distractions – no worries.  But stay in places where there’s at least some level of activity so you don’t become too isolated in your own head.  Believe it or not, you’re likely to remember more and feel less tired just by being around other human beings.
  3. DON’T post pictures that might eventually get you in trouble. Maybe you think it’s funny or cool to take pictures with friends at a party holding plastic cups and wearing funny hats. Whatever you do, don’t post them any more! It won’t be long before you’re applying for jobs, and today’s recruiters go to the Internet first to research potential candidates. They’re looking to understand who you are outside of the office and your resume certainly won’t reflect that – so don’t let your social media!  Take your online identity more seriously and remember that your future​ ​can be compromised because of images you post today.
  4. DON’T think of social media as an all-or-nothing proposition. You can have it all. Think of social media as you do food – moderation is fine and too much is unhealthy. Make good choices as your life begins at college. Learn proper usage and consumption rates.

​Top 5 DOs: 

  1. DO join the social media sites for clubs, intramural sports and other activities. Online club companion sites are a great way to keep up and stay involved.  Most clubs and other groups at college have a social media component. To make the most of the experience, meet people in person and also stay connected to all the latest news, events and discussions.
  2. DO check out the Career Center site and join social media groups to help learn about job opportunities. One of the best ways to leverage social media is to find companies offering  internships or part-time jobs. If there’s an organization you’re particularly interested in, check out the company’s social media channels. Be conservative with your remarks at first until you get a sense of things.
  3. DO use social media to stay in touch with family and friends from home. Freshmen often find it a great comfort to use social media to stay in touch with loved ones. Social media used in this way can provide solace and a sense of security on a regular basis. Freshman tend to experience more anxiety and depression, so making the most of all forms of communication with loved ones will help stave off some of the problems that can crop up in your first year.
  4. DO use social media to follow  interests out of school – just not at the complete expense of “in-person” time with new friends and classmates. If you have hobbies and interests that are not well-served by what your college offers, you can have the best of both worlds by staying close to others with common interests. The ideal scenario is to have an in-person counterbalance.  For example, I love to scuba dive. While there may be a “diving club” at college, it’s fun to talk to people from around the world about their diving experie​​nces as well.
  5. DO keep up with social media but pay more attention to your “real” life as you grow and mature. This is a time when the old rules of your life no longer apply fully, but you have yet to write the new ones you’ll use to guide you forward.  Recognize that while social media has some great things to offer, paying attention to the life you are actually present in is just as important. Use this time – this precious year as a freshman – to make the transition.  You’ll be able to have the best of all worlds, on and offline!​

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