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UMD Students and Social Media


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Photos from UMD's Instagram account.

College students are wired. A full 85% of young adults in the U.S. now own a smartphone. With ‘apps’ that link directly to accounts, smartphones make access to social media sites trouble-free. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are the most popular social media sites in the country, and all are popular at UMD.

Capturing a moment with social media sensation Instagram proves that a picture is worth a thousand words. According to the Pew Research Center study, Social Media Update, published on January 9, 2015, Instagram is the top social media site among college students because of its ability to preserve memories and document life events.

Also according to Pew Research, Instagram took over social media rankings for the first time with use by 53% of young adults (ages 18 to 29). In that group, 49% used Instagram daily. Instagram use grew more rapidly than any other type of social media, from 37% in 2013 to 53% in 2014.

UMD students follow the national trend. Marissa Vespa, a sophomore and health care management major, uses Instagram more than other social media sites. Vespa said, “I like that Instagram is visual. It’s not like Twitter where your posts consist mostly of text. Instagram allows you to be artistic and creative.”

Alarif Kalil, a junior biology major, agreed. “I post photos on Instagram around four or five times a week,” Kalil said. “I share photos of my friends. I post pictures of events, like concerts. I like that Instagram allows you to edit your photo with filters and effects.”

The grandfather of social media sites, Facebook, is used by many college students to keep up with news, current events, and what family and friends are doing. The Pew Research survey states that Facebook is the primary social media platform of American Internet users. Young adults (ages 18-29) have high use as well; 87% use Facebook.

Students use smartphones, tablets, and laptops to access social media, “I use social media more during the week opposed to the weekend. I normally have my computer with me and it’s easy to open my laptop to scroll through the newsfeed on Facebook,” said Kalil. “I check Facebook uncountable times a day, it is the most convenient way to keep up with the news.”

Snapchat is used by 77% of college students on a daily basis, according to a 2015 survey from Digital Marketing Stats.

“Facebook and Snapchat are the social media outlets that I use the most frequently. However, I do use Facebook more than Snapchat,” said Nick Vang, a sophomore with a major in teaching communication arts and literature. “I think Twitter and Instagram are cool, I don’t dislike them, but I’m not active enough on social media to actually make profiles and keep up with them.”

Pinterest comes in at 34% and LinkedIn follows with 23% among people in the 18-29 age group. LinkedIn has reported that more than 200,000 college students join every month and the primary reason is for job searches. Senior Zach Lunderberg said, “It’s been helpful to see what other graduating students are doing. It’s a good way to network with professionals. Viewing the profiles of older students may help guide you through decision-making as well.”

"I look on Pinterest at least once a day," said freshman Ashley Koivunen. "It's fun to see all the different ideas it has for fashion; I also use it for recipe ideas."

The frequency that individuals post to social media sites vary. Vang and Vespa both post more on weekends when they are doing something fun and want to share it with their friends. “I post photos to Instagram about two or three times a week,” said Vespa.

Students visit sites more frequently than they post. All of students interviewed use and check social media during the day at school.

The students surveyed said publicity of private affairs and the overuse of the technology can pose problems. For instance, Vespa said, “Using social media during a concert, vacation, or event may distract you from being able to truly enjoy it.”

The anonymity of social sites like YikYak can also cause problems. Vang commented, “I’m not very fond of sites like YikYak. They encourage people to say things that are extremely offensive in regards to race, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background because they will never be held accountable for what they say.”

It may take different forms, but as the use by UMD students indicates, social media is here to stay.

Pew Social Media Update

Follow UMD's social media profiles on Twitter @UMNDuluth, Facebook at University of Minnesota Duluth, and on Instagram at umnduluth.



Written by Courtney Salmela. April 2015.

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