College students say Facebook both fosters and hurts real-life relationships

Is Facebook good or bad for college students? University of Denver students are divided on whether the #1 most popular social networking site in the United States helps them foster relationships in college.

Is Facebook good or bad for college student relationships? Photo by Hsing Tseng.

Is Facebook good or bad for college student relationships? Photo by Hsing Tseng.

Students use Facebook to connect with friends

Bao Le, a fourth-year Business major, signed up for a Facebook account in his first year of college and uses the site actively for at least three hours every day.

“It was told to me that without one, it’d be easy to miss out on events and that it was essential to making more friends. These days, I mainly use Facebook to connect/socialize with people that I don’t see very often in person. A lot of times, my friends are either very busy or are not in the state anymore and it’s a great way of maintaining friendships,” said Le.

Aaron Fisher, a second-year majoring in International Studies and Economics, also uses Facebook to connect with friends online.

“I use Facebook for chatting and messaging other people and I use it a lot for events because it’s easier to keep up on events through Facebook. I’ve started using in more in college to stay in contact with old friends,” said Fisher, who uses the site for 45 minutes to an hour per day.

A second-year majoring in Biology, Bailey Loving, in contrast to the other two students, does not have an active Facebook account. Loving deactivated his account two years ago.

“As far as not having one goes, I don’t really notice it,” said Loving.

The Good

All three University of Denver students agree that Facebook can be used in beneficial ways to help friendships grow.

“Personally, as a commuter student, Facebook has been immensely useful in being able to learn about events and social groups that I normally would not have access to. Normally, when I meet someone during college, it is during an event and Facebook has been a great way for me to expand chance encounters into lasting friendships,” said Le.

Fisher agrees that Facebook has been especially useful in informing him of events happening around campus and in making friendships.

“I think Facebook is good in that it’s good with events and making it really easy to coordinate everything, that’s a big advantage of Facebook. Also, it allows for rapid update of information. You look at big world events like Arab Spring and a lot of that was due to social media,” said Fisher.

In addition to allowing for connecting with friends, Facebook also helps acquaintances get to know each other better, Fisher believes.

“Facebook is unique in that it really provides an opportunity for people to see what acquaintances, or people who aren’t really in their close knit group of friends are up to,” said Fisher.

The Bad

Students also recognize that Facebook use isn’t all beneficial for college students.

Le notes several downfalls of Facebook in that it is widely used as a form of procrastination and distraction for college students both in and out of class and can also put students’ privacy at risk.

“It’s very easy for people to find information about someone that they wouldn’t normally get through normal conversation or even interaction through the friend system on Facebook,” said Le.

“One of the bad things about Facebook is people care less about people and more about how many likes or comments their status gets. You also stop having face to face interaction with people because of Facebook,” said Fisher.

Fisher also states that while it can be good to get to know acquaintances through social media, Facebook serves as a substitute for meaningful relationships in many of these cases.

“People maintain a really pseudo-relationship, thinking ‘I know what this person is doing because I saw it on Facebook,’ but you really don’t know what’s going on with that person because you’re not close with them,” said Fisher.

Student Bailey Loving prefers to connect with friends offline. Photo by Hsing Tseng.

Student Bailey Loving prefers to connect with friends offline. Photo by Hsing Tseng.

For Loving, it was this substitution for real relationships that caused him to deactivate his Facebook.

“I just didn’t feel like going on there anymore. I was on it a lot and then I took an outside look at it and said ‘Wow, going on here everyday, constantly checking my notifications – this is stupid, why am I doing this everyday?’ I wasn’t getting closer to any of my friends,” said Loving, who prefers to connect with his friends offline.

The Verdict

Ultimately, students have mixed feelings as to whether Facebook is good or bad for relationships.

Despite not having an active Facebook account, Loving believes that Facebook is not inherently good or bad, but ultimately depends upon how its user chooses to utilize it.

“It’s a great tool that can be used in good and bad ways. What you choose to do with it is what makes it useful. Internet in general is a great tool, but individuals can use it for good and bad purposes,” said Loving.

Le expressed the same sentiment, stating that whether Facebook is good or bad depends upon the user.

“Facebook has many pros and cons and most of it boils down to every individual user. It can be a tool for socialization and connection with friends, or it can be a tool for stalking and procrastination,” said Le.

Fisher believes that both good and bad aspects of Facebook will continue going into the future for college students.

“It’s going to be used for connecting with friends and also socializing with people that aren’t in your daily group of friends – and I think that’s really all Facebook is,” said Fisher.

The conclusion: Facebook is a tool to help college students connect with each other, coordinate events, and enhance their college experience, but can also be a distraction and a substitute for tangible relationships.

3 Responses to College students say Facebook both fosters and hurts real-life relationships

  • Cassie Redlingshafer
    Cassie Redlingshafer says:

    I really liked how you made sure to include opinions from both sides of the issues. Your formatting and organization made the article really easy to read and understand. In terms of content, I liked the quote about how Facebook forms “pseudo-relationships.” I do wish you would have put some statistics in the story about how often college age students get on Facebook and the percentage of people this age who have Facebooks.

  • Jacob Bockhorst
    Jacob Bockhorst says:

    The story was very well organized and provided an accurate description of how students use Facebook. Including examples of students who experienced both positive and negative experiences using it balanced the story well. It was easy to read, flowed well and was broken up nicely. An interesting aspect to investigate could be to see if the same results apply for students using Twitter or other types of social media. Overall, a good article.

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