Rise of social media has 'turned university students into snowflakes'

Rise of social media has ‘turned university students into snowflakes’ by making them less able to see other points of view, say researchers

  • Study of 17,000 students found marked drop in their relationship skills over last 15 years
  • Comes amid fears youngsters are far less tolerant of views not their own
  • Students  blocked public speakers from campuses and bullied them online because they disagree with their views 

University students are becoming less able to empathise with others and see their point of view because of over-use of social media, researchers believe.

A study of 17,000 students found a marked drop in their relationship skills over the last 15 years.

It comes amid fears youngsters are getting far less tolerant of views not their own, particularly those deemed not ‘woke’ enough.

Students have blocked public speakers from their campuses and bullied them online because they disagree with their views.

A study of 17,000 students found a marked drop in their relationship skills over the last 15 years (stock image)

The latest study may go some way towards explaining the trend. It said a loss of ’emotional intelligence’ is likely to be because social interactions increasingly take place online. When youngsters conduct friendships mostly via social media in written form, they miss out on social cues such as body language and voice tone.

It said ’emotionality’ – which comprises ’emotion expression, perception, relationship skills and empathy – fell by 11 per cent.

It said a possible reason for the findings ‘is the rise of electronic communication, especially social media which has been linked to poor wellbeing’.

Lead researcher Mahreen Khan said: ‘This is in line with previous research demonstrating social media has… replaced in-person communication.’

She added it had left students feeling ‘less clear about their own and others’ emotions, less capable of communicating their emotions, less capable of having fulfilling relationships and less capable of taking someone else’s perspective.’

The latest study may go some way towards explaining the trend. It said a loss of ’emotional intelligence’ is likely to be because social interactions increasingly take place online (stock image)

The study, by the University of New South Wales in Australia, included 6,000 UK students as well as others from Australia, the US and Canada. Researchers who analysed the students’ emotional traits also found an 11 per cent drop in their levels of wellbeing.

Meanwhile, students’ levels of self-control, which includes the ability to regulate emotions and impulses, fell by 13 per cent.

Dr Khan said it meant students are now feeling ‘less capable of controlling their emotions, less capable of handling stress and more likely to give in to their urges.’

She suggested students should try to meet face to face where possible. ‘It may be worth limiting the use of social media and electronic communication,’ she added. ‘However, it is worth noting that more work needs to be done to specifically implicate the causes of declining levels of emotional intelligence.’

The findings, published in the Journal of Personality, add weight to concerns that social networks such as Twitter and Facebook create ‘echo chambers’ where youngsters are subjected only to views that mirror their own.

The sites use algorithms to recommend content, based on what users have looked at before.

The findings, published in the Journal of Personality, add weight to concerns that social networks such as Twitter and Facebook create ‘echo chambers’ where youngsters are subjected only to views that mirror their own (file image)

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