Spelman College students balance pros and cons of social media

When it comes to social media, Spelman College students Madison Riles and M’Kenzie Lumas-Harmon are constantly creating.

"I make different videos with my hair showing the different hairstyles and curls recently, and then I also make art videos and then daily college lifestyle videos," Lumas-Harmon says.

Riles just started a production Instagram account, where she creates and published mini-documentaries.

"I just did a mini-documentary on Black love for Valentine’s Day," she says.

And they have their share of followers.

"Total, I have 200,000," Lumas-Harmon says.

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Both say social media does put pressure on young women.

A recent study published by the American Psychological Association found undergraduates who cut their social media use in half,  saw significant improvements in how felt about their overall appearance and body weight after just 3 weeks.

And Madison Riles says she gets it.

"We have this constant craving for validation with likes, follows comments and things like that, and also the pressure it puts on our bodies to appear in a certain way," she says.  "There’s a certain body stereotype. That’s the beauty standard."

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Licensed professional counselor Pamela Walton, Associate Director of Counseling at Spelman College, says young women can also get caught in a comparison trap.

"(You’re) Seeing the highlights of someone else’s life and comparing that to your own life, thinking that others are doing more or doing better than, which is of course, not always the case," Walton says.  "So, it just because that is in their face all the time."

Riles and Lumas-Harmon, both part of the Spelman Admissions social media team, say they’ve learned to post what they want and often avoid reading the comments or counting the "likes."

"A way that I deal with negativity is just by, you know, honing in on who I am, and focusing on why I made the content in the first place, why I posted this video," Lumas-Harmon says.

"Especially when I make creative content. I’m not looking for a bunch of views or a bunch of likes. I’m just doing it for me," Riles says.

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Walton says they coach students to occasionally take time off from social media.

"Some of the things we may talk to them about, especially, is setting schedules and time limitations and taking breaks from the social media, where they can focus on their own work and the things that they’re doing," she says.