The 10 Best and Worst Ways Social Media Impacts Education

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?

The Negative

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.

The Positive

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.

What Next?

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?

20 Comments

  1. Pingback: The 10 Best and Worst Ways Social Media Impacts Education – Edudemic « Indiana Jen

  2. @jmsinnz

    July 11, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    While it's a classic "10 Best…" article title, I'm not sure if this is a very helpful summary, even though it's been flying around the Twittersphere like a virus for the last few hours.

    "Students who spend a great deal of time on social networking are less able to effectively communicate in person"

    Statements like these are unhelpful without data. How much is "a great deal", and where is the research.

    If I was a parent who had little exposure to social media or computers, and little Johnny was spending an hour a day on social media activities I might think that was "a great deal of time". Compared to Johnny's parents who probably spend a great deal of time watching TV and Fox News, Johnny is at least engaging with others, participating in dialogue, creating content, and not passive at all.

    For a selection of bookmarks of articles on this subject you're welcome to browse these. http://bit.ly/SM-Education

  3. @nadinelovelive

    July 12, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Interesting comments on the impact of Social Media

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  6. @mnjorgensen

    July 14, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Agree with @dmsinnz

    The example about communication in particular jumped out at me as misdirected, and one sided. Research tells us that a significant majority of young adults prefer face to face communication to online communication. Most teen girls report they would give up their online communication altogether to retain a friendship. Social media isn't replacing the socialisation of our young adults, it has augmented it, and the significant majority of young adults using these online resources KNOW that.

    Regarding the comments on a reduced ability to read 'body signals'. Young adults need time spent online to learn to make real connections. They need the opportunity to play in those online spaces just as they do in the real world. It is only through this opportunity to play, to flirt and gossip, mash and share media, that they learn to develop their emotional intelligence online. They need these opportunities to recognize real emotional responses in others online, and to understand them in context.

    Play is crucial to the development of our emotional intelligence. Play affords us the opportunity to learn to identify an emotional response in others, and to appreciate what it represents in context. Put simply, if young adults are going to be responsible, active citizens online then they need practice interacting with communities, large and small, in online spaces. Social media spaces for the most part, offer them this.

    Restricting their access to these opportunities by scare mongering about 'body signals' … and encouraging a reduction of these opportunities to share and interact with other young adults online, reduces their opportunities to learn to make sound judgements in these spaces. They must have access to online communities, in order to learn to navigate more complex relationships online later on.

    Offline cues are crucial, so are online ones.

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  8. Carolina Prestes Yirula

    July 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I really enjoy reading all the articles in this website! I have my own blog and sometimes I translate the texts that I find here to portuguese (I'm from Brazil)… Congratulations and keep writing! Cheers, Carolina.

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  12. Shravan

    October 17, 2011 at 2:03 am

    @jmsinnz I agree with you.
    Above article seems to be very generic as far as figures and facts are concerned. Nevertheless, it throws light on many issues that are part of social media's positive and negative aspects. It's time to think upon usage and extent of usage as far as social media is concerned. I had always thought of a need for an alternative to deviate youngsters from generic social media, thereby reducing negatives! In this sense, if we can have focused social media – that can be social media that focuses on industry or activity or say teaching learning and making them available to students, can mostly reduce above negatives.

  13. kamal

    October 30, 2011 at 9:28 pm

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  16. peter miles

    July 10, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I don’t have a negative feeling about social media in education, sometimes, its what matters for the smart ones. Great insights though.

  17. Akor christian

    August 18, 2012 at 4:45 am

    I share your line of thought as well because no initiative is free from criticism.

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  19. Cesar Canoog

    November 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    well, it depends on the netizens interest upon the social media: dilemma or messiah?
    every click matters fellows!

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