The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The illusion of necessity: How social media shapes college spending habits

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Online shopping draws in students to buy more with ease.

The illusion of necessity: How social media shapes college spending habits

A young adult’s world is shaped by social media. These platforms wield a significant influence over many people’s lives, sometimes unconsciously. College students are most susceptible to the appeal of online trends. They often find themselves in a cycle of purchasing an item to fulfill their perceived needs and then being dissatisfied when their lives aren’t completely changed.

One of the driving forces behind this apparent need to spend is influencer culture. College students are still learning to adapt to challenges of independence and finding themselves, so they are particularly vulnerable to the persuasive tactics used by influencers.

These media personas use carefully crafted lifestyles in order to draw in followers and fans; their seemingly perfect lives attract the vulnerable young adults. In an attempt to solve their own problems, college students find themselves trying to replicate these impossibly flawless lives.

Unfortunately, most influencers’ motive behind what they do is to promote certain products. They will partner with a company and promote the brand on their social media platforms. Typically the influencer will receive a small royalty or free products from the company for praising the products. This sponsored appraisal glorifies the products, convincing their followers that the key to achieving the life they want is a series of, often expensive, items.

One of the top areas new college students are spending is their dorm. There is a collection of obvious needs like bedding and a clock, but influencers push the idea of what is necessary. From a $50 lamp to a $120 throw blanket, the prices add up when trying to check off the essentials list.

Senior Aditya Satya Narayan expressed his frustration with trying to buy what people suggest. “One thing that irritated me the most I would say is the fact that there was almost no consistency in what people were suggesting. There is a huge expectation for people to get a lot of stuff and it is just painfully irritating to deal with,” he said.

The consequences of following social media related shopping can be profound, particularly for college students already challenged with limited financial resources. Overspending on non-essential items can lead to financial stress when it comes to the things a student actually needs like textbooks and toiletries.

“You don’t know what your situation on campus is going to be and that technically determines what you are going to need. The biggest guarantor of what supplies I will need is going to be what I will use day-to-day, not what other people say I need,” Narayan explained.

The convenience of online shopping makes it even easier for students to fall down a spiral of spending. Amazon shopping lists and Tik Tok shops allow people to buy items directly from whatever social media person they see. This ease prioritizes short-term gratification over long-term financial stability.

First-year college student Scott Zimmerman finds himself shopping online frequently. “I often buy items I see online, especially when shopping on Amazon. If it is a small and relatively inexpensive item I normally order it right away,” he said.

Continued spending habits such as these will have lasting implications on a student’s well-being well beyond their college years.

While social media undoubtedly offers numerous benefits for young adults, it also has the potential to negatively influence their spending habits. It is challenging for college students to navigate the allure of online trends and the pressure that comes with keeping up with the influencers. Understanding individual needs can help students make informed financial decisions and resist the temptation of unnecessary items driven by social media.

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About the Contributor
Katelyn Morris
Katelyn Morris, Arts and Entertainment Editor, News Editor
Katelyn is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School and is serving as the section editor of the Arts and Entertainment and News sections. Outside of school she enjoys theatre, art, and shopping. Katelyn loves spending way too much time away from home and never gets enough sleep. She plans on pursuing a degree in music education after high school.
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