Social networking communities are here to stay. Facebook has over 500 million users, while Twitter has over 200 million. That’s not even counting blogs or YouTube video blogs. There’s no doubt that students are actively engaged in online communities, but what kind of effects are these sites having and how can parents counteract the bad and bolster the positive?
1. Many students rely on the accessibility of information on social media specifically and the web in general to provide answers. That means a reduced focus on learning and retaining information.
2. Students who attempt to multi-task, checking social media sites while studying, show reduced academic performance (http://viralms.com/blog/2011/04/how-social-media-affects-students/). Their ability to concentrate on the task at hand is significantly reduced by the distractions that are brought about by YouTube, stumbleupon, Facebook or Twitter.
3. The more time students spend on social sites, the less time they spend socializing in person. Because of the lack of body signals and other nonverbal cues, like tone and inflection, social networking sites are not an adequate replacement for face-to-face communication. Students who spend a great deal of time on social networking are less able to effectively communicate in person.
4. The popularity of social media, and the speed at which information is published, has created a lax attitude towards proper spelling and grammar. The reduces a student’s ability to effectively write without relying on a computer’s spell check feature. (source)
5. The degree to which private information is available online and the anonymity the internet seems to provide has made students forget the need to filter the information they post. Many colleges and potential employers investigate an applicant’s social networking profiles before granting acceptance or interviews. Most students don’t constantly evaluate the content they’re publishing online, which can bring about negative consequences months or years down the road.
1. Social networking has increased the rate and quality of collaboration for students. They are better able to communicate meeting times or share information quickly, which can increase productivity and help them learn how to work well in groups.
2. Social networking teaches students skills they’ll need to survive in the business world. Being able to create and maintain connections to many people in many industries is an integral part of developing a career or building a business.
3. By spending so much time working with new technologies, students develop more familiarity with computers and other electronic devices. With the increased focus on technology in education and business, this will help students build skills that will aid them throughout their lives.
4. The ease with which a student can customize their profile makes them more aware of basic aspects of design and layout that are not often taught in schools. Building resumes and personal websites, which are increasingly used as online portfolios, benefit greatly from the skills obtained by customizing the layout and designs of social networking profiles.
5. The ease and speed with which users can upload pictures, videos or stories has resulted in a greater amount of sharing of creative works. Being able to get instant feedback from friends and family on their creative outlets helps students refine and develop their artistic abilities and can provide much needed confidence or help them decide what career path they may want to pursue.
How can parents mitigate the negative aspects of social media while improving upon the positive results? Moderating their access to social media is one excellent method. Most of the negative aspects can be overcome by reducing the amount of time spent on social network sites. Provide ample time for face-to-face social interaction, like having some family leisure time in which you discuss their studies in a relaxed atmosphere or inviting friends and family over for cookouts.
Paying attention to their academic progress and addressing any issues will go a long way towards keeping the negative aspects of social media from influencing their studies. So, too, will providing fun, face-to-face social interaction with loved ones.
Joseph Baker’s business experience in management and technology spans more than 15 years. A leader of development and management teams, he also implemented budget reductions professionally and as an independent contractor. Joseph led strategic planning and systems of implementation for nine organizations, public and private, and worked extensively with small businesses. He is an advocate for educational reform and a proponent of social media integration.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management. Would you like to write for Edudemic?