A BA in………Facebook studies


Students spend nearly 25 percent of their internet time on social networking websites (Jacobsen, & Forste, 2011). It is estimated that Facebook alone is responsible for one is seven minutes users spend online. Its one of the most popular sites, estimated to be worth between $75 billion and $100 billion. With one billion users 50% of which log on every day, or one in seven of the words total population, Facebook without a doubt is big business. But with 96% of students using facebook, is there really such a thing as the ‘facebook effect’ and if so does this have a positive or negative effect on a students education?

Wang, Chen, and Liang, (2011)  looked into the effect of social media for example Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, Twitter, MySpace or Linkedln (Martin, 2008) on college students and found mainly negative results.  Social media sites promote negative behaviors in teenage students for example procrastination, additionally they found that these students were more prone to getting involved with alcohol and drugs (Schill, 2011)

Research shows quantity of social media use has a negative effect on grades. Approximately two-thirds of students said they use electronic media during class, studying, or while completing homework (Jacobsen, & Forste, 2011).”This multitasking likely increases distraction, something prior research has shown to be detrimental to student performance’’. As social media sites, for example become more popular, they are ever more harmful manners of procrastination when students should be studying. Of a survey conducted on 102 students, 57% said that social media had resulted in them being less productive. 

Another study has looked at the effects of social media on grades shows students who use Facebook set aside less time to study and receive lower marks compared with students who don’t use these social networking sites (Kalpidou, Costin, & Morris, 2011). Also, college students who are part of the 500 million member social network receive much lower grade-point averages (GPAs) than those who don’t  (Karpinski and Duberstein, 2010).

Social media is also extremely addictive. University of Maryland students who were deprived of social media for 24 hours felt feeling of craving and withdrawal symptoms similar to alcohol or drug addiction.  Facebook addiction was said to be 350 times more addictive than cigarette addiction. So maybe its too late we have a population of addicts and social media has to either be pushed away and denied or be accepted and utilized in positive ways to benefit education.

Nevertheless other studies do not support such negative corellations between social media activity and students’ academic performance. Social media technologies have attracted the interest of individuals from higher education who require ‘manners of engaging and motivating their students to be more active learners’ (Hughes 2009). There is an interest in combining certain social media tools (such as blogs, microblogs, video-sharing sites, and social networking) with the learning process (Grosseck & Holotescu 2009; Rankin 2009; Ebner et al. 2010; Schroeder et al. 2010), particularly by faculty members with a plan of using the latest technology in education (Crook 2008).

 Another interesting ability of social media is to increase individuals cognitive flexibility. For example when people are updating their facebook status, instant-messaging friends, or answering text messages and emails, while they’re doing something else. Dr. Kuhl (2009) ‘said this multitasking, where people are stimulating new patterns of sequential processing, could reap the same benefits as bilingualism’. If this is not the case— then networking online is to some extent ‘acting as a brain innovator, promoting new paths of discovery and interactivity in the brain’.

Already we can see education seeping onto facebook and other form of social media, as without a doubt it is an invaluable way to reach students. For example this module has certainly motivated me personally to read more papers and engage with academic material, as we are being assessed on our blogs and receive comments from our peers and Jesse, which is just another form of social media. In my opinion knowing that my work is being published for all the online community to see (if they so care) motivates me to better myself through my work ever week. This in itself can certainly be one positive aspect of social media on education.

I came across a wonderful idea on TED created by Neha Gupta that harnesses social media for example Facebook and the fact that many people waste many hours on these sites to create something positive, to link them with students who want to be taught through skype. In my viewpoint as with many things in life social media can be both harmful and beneficial it all depends how you harness it. Without a doubt social media has great potential to enhance education by engaging, motivating and making students members of a global learning community.





5 responses »

  1. I cannot agree more with your last comment. Facebook utilizes so many elements and has such a strong draw for many people, that it could really be helpful for learning. It just isn’t really being used in such a way yet. A prime example of this is the gaming aspect of facebook. Unfortunately, the most popular games on facebook (farmville and similar games) not only have no educational benefit, but they are so time consuming for committed users that they could potentially be detrimental to focusing on academic activities. However, there are games they could promote on their site instead such as this one http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1381, which have positive benefits for learning (in this case, improving vocabulary). While this particular example might not appeal to everyone, i’m confident that there are other positive ways the more addictive elements of the site can be used.

  2. I liked the fact that you approached the idea of tying the addictive gaming aspects within social networking sites into education. ‘FarmVille players outnumber real farmers by a ratio of 80 to one, and one out of every five people in the U.S. plays the game, 68.7 million Americans will be playing social games by 2012’.http://www.allfacebook.com/farmville-players-outnumber-real-farmers-80-to-1-2011-06
    Without a doubt if we can draw people into education and engage them to even a mimimal extent that these games have down it will have big positive implications for peoples learning.
    I think the main issue as highlighted in the following video is maintaining professionalism and emphasising the learning aspect of these tools, as opposed to the purely social attributes that are currently associated with them

  3. I really like your stance on network sites. It is refreshing to see a search for the positive aspects within social network sites, rather than the automatic response of condemning them. I think especially Facebook’s ability to share information quickly allows it to be a valuable tool for group work within education.

    Having said that, I worry whether tying education into Facebook is a viable option. Utilization behaviour, the inability to not engage in visual stimuli (Lhermitte, 1983), highlights how we must inhibit tasks around us. I worry whether forcing students to go to Facebook to find their education wont be result in them having to fight much harder to give in to their impulses.

  4. I think Chiron raises a very interesting point in temrs of making it harder to fight imulses, although the utilisation of social networking sites such as facebook for educational purposes is very appealing and could potentially be beneficial it may just further encourage students to use something that is an addiction (as mentioned in your blog) for them. But, such as through the use of groups, social networks can be used in a supplmental way to help education by not being required but allowing students to work with others in order to help facilitate education in other settings. An example of this would is shown by Selwyn’s (2009) study that found that it appears facebook is beneficial in working through role conflicts that are common in education settings (such as relationships with work, staff, and expectations), this would likely be a positive aspect of social networking as it allows for this role conflict resolution to happen outside of the educational setting which could eliminate some possible distractions in said settings.

  5. Pingback: The Social Media Revolution! | psua13

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