In other words, college students may face a number of negative reactions from peers and teachers for excessive alcohol and drug use. The obsessive checking of Facebook though – for the high that comes with knowing how many people liked their last post, for example – that’s something that can easily go unchecked indefinitely.

3) Identification with online persona. Serving as the transition from childhood into adulthood, the college years are pivotal in the development of who our young people become. It’s often a confusing time, as college students explore and experiment with all sorts of new identities.

Unfortunately, this challenge may be further confused by the perceived connection to, and dependence on, college students’ online personas. Much of the angst associated with disconnect anxiety is the fear that if we do not log on and post our thoughts and experiences, their import is somehow minimized. We’ve come to depend on Facebook friends for public validation.

The irony, of course, is that what we’re posting represents just a slice of who we really are. We share only what we want people to believe about us. For college students shaping the character they will carry into adulthood, this often means learning to hide their true selves.

4) Replacing real-world friends with Facebook friends. The friends we make in college are often the friends we have for life. There, more than anywhere, we make important discoveries about ourselves, our interests, and our convictions, and we naturally gravitate toward like-minded people. However, considerable effort should be made to find and cultivate these real-world relationships – a devotion of time increasingly allotted to Facebook friendships.

Now, this is not to discount the value of the connections we are making with our Facebook friends. Certainly, there is value to using this and other social networks as a tool for keeping up with, and engaging with, people we otherwise may not see or talk to on a regular basis.

The problem lies in confusing the value of Facebook relationships with real-world relationships, as no amount of posting and commenting snippets of life here and there can contribute toward any sort of substantial relationship.

College students who suffer from social anxiety are especially at-risk of this, as it may feel far more preferential to stay in the dorm room “hanging out” with friends online than actually going out to meet and engage with people face-to-face.


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