From capturing selfies and vomiting rainbows to messaging their grandparents, Amarillo College students devote a great deal of time to social media. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and more take up many hours of people’s daily lives. While some people label social media as a waste of time and a distraction, others embrace it as an important form of communication. Using social media is even the focus of an AC class. Last fall, AC debuted a new class that covers the strategic use of social media channels for businesses and organizations. “Employers are looking for folks that understand this concept and have the skills necessary to handle social media channels for a large business or organization,” said David White, a Web communications specialist and a social media tools instructor. White said social media is important because businesses can use social media to actually communicate with their customers. Students also use social media for communication. “Extracurricular-wise, I think it’s really helpful,” said general studies major Jesse Austin. Austin said allowing students to communicate with one another in online discussions and in other forms of social media outside class helps them stay engaged in their studies while also doing something they enjoy. The type of social media preferred depends on age group. White pointed out that studies by the Pew Research Center show that “Facebook currently is the most popular social media channel in the United States among adults between the ages of 18 and 29; however, reports are indicating that Instagram is ranking a close second to Facebook, and if this trend continues, then Instagram might be the most commonly used social media channel by college students.” Some students already have abandoned Facebook in favor of other social media. Austin said she uses it the least out of all social media. “Facebook is more of an old person thing now,” she said. Although most college students use social media, White said familiarity with the platforms does not mean they are prepared for careers as social media managers, public relations specialists or marketers. White said anyone who wants to work in the field or use social media for business purposes should consider taking his class. “Look at it this way: Just because a person can drive a car doesn’t qualify that person to fly a commercial airplane,” White said. Not all students are as active on social media as others. Bethany Manes, a general studies major, said she is not very dependent on social media and keeps up only with Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Grayson Morris, a radiography major, said he spends no time on social media. Nevertheless, the Pew Research Center reports a continual increase in social media usage among young adults.“One thing is for sure, it is not going away anytime soon,” White said.
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