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.