In today’s world of connected learning, the impact of social media on education is becoming a driving factor. The world is getting smaller, and through the use of technology such as social media, the way we deliver instruction is changing. Social media and education can complement one another if utilized effectively. The technology referred to here really transpires just social media technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. The technologies that allow these platforms to function are also one of the driving forces behind the impact of this technology on education. There are positive and adverse effects of social networking to students to students, and the jury is still out concerning the long-term effects of social media exposure may have. Social media and education are not historically allies and many educators see social media as a determent to real learning. This is changing as the cloud-based nature of social media for collaborating on projects is growing into a pertinent and useful technology. Facebook has the ability to create rooms and video chat with invitees. This is great for student projects which rely upon successful collaboration as the global pandemic shut down many face to face interactions.
For example, video presentation platforms, such as Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, or Web video conferencing such as Cisco Webex, have allowed instruction to be delivered across great distances. No longer is it necessary for a faculty member to be in the same room as the students. These technologies have given rise to the flipped classroom model and changed the way knowledge is conveyed to students. Faculty today must be more technologically savvy than any generation previously as the students not only prefer communication through these mediums, they expect it. The adoption of social media in everyday life is one of the driving forces behind these changing expectations and how social media is changing education.
The impact of these technologies on education can be considered positive but also has some negative consequences. It’s not clear what the positive effects of social media on students or negative effects will have on long term development, but there are some downsides.
What is the impact of social media on students
Negative Impact of Social Media
There have been studies on the adverse impact of social media on people’s brains, and these adverse effects not only have an impact on social media in education, but it also has an impact on society as a whole. This is one of the main negative effects of this technology on education.
Some of these are very weird and not something we may morally think about and associate with social media:
- You may spend more money — Social media marketing has become a science into its self, and many marketers are competing for your attention through social media channels. This can cause you to spend money that you may not have otherwise spent. There is also keeping up with the Jones effect, where people think they must have something just because their neighbor has a similar item. There have been studies performed that suggest the more time you spend on social media viewing stuff you may not own; you may tend to have lower self-control when you see an ad for something one of your friends has shown you.
- Alteration of appetite – Women’s health did an article a while back on what they termed food porn. Viewing a constant stream of pictures of food and recipes like you may find on Pinterest may lead to overeating and, as a result, gaining of weight. This sort of makes sense as if you see recipes that just look scrumptious, especially the latest bacon-wrapped whatever that comes across your news stream.
- Inability to think independently – This is the biggest issue, in my opinion, with social media. It can lead to groupthink, and while that may not be all bad( if you have the right group), for the most part, it may result in people not having original thoughts and making up their minds about issues. This is one reason politicians have gravitated towards social media channels for their campaigns as its more straightforward to convince people who may be on the fence about a candidate if they are getting pressure from their friends to support a particular person. This mainly works well with negative campaigning. Some of this is done over time, and people do not realize they are being conditioned, but seeing the same thing over and over can condition your thinking. There have been countless studies done on this over the years, so it should come as no surprise the social media channels can help lead to groupthink.
- Self-esteem issues- Many people have found they feel more lonely as a result of social media. This is especially true of younger people, such as students who have grown up with social media platforms. Since people are communicating more and more through electronic means, they tend to have a harder time interacting with people in the real world. They can communicate online with ease, but not when it comes to face to face communication.
The Negative Impact of Social Media on Education
Some of the adverse effects of social media on education include:
- Students are not accustomed as much to having face-to-face conversations. Body language is a huge part of communication between humans, and when people primarily communicate through technology, then body language clues can be missed, or students do not learn to use body language as a queue for understanding the context of what the person is trying to convey.
- Students do not develop the same accuracy in the written word. With the increase in text messages and social media tweets as communication, students are used to not utilizing proper spelling and grammar when communicating. This makes it hard for others to understand the actual context of the discussion, especially when they are talking with individuals who did not grow up using technology as the primary means of communicating. With software that installs with the browser such as Grammarly, students can just use the technology to correct grammar, but sometimes this comes at the cost of the not knowing why a particular word or phrase is incorrect. Social media can have an impact on the student’s speech too if they start using the same abbreviations in the spoken word.
- Retention can also suffer as a result of social media and the technologies employed to deliver content. There is a lot of noise on these platforms, and therefore, information is not retained as well as it may when you are reading a book. This is one of the primary drawbacks of using these technologies in education as it’s challenging to present the needed information in a manner that allows it to stand out from the noise. The use of video can be an excellent way to help combat this, but the noise is still there and one of the consequences of using social media.
As you can see, the adoption of social media has created some challenges in education. Whether these items are entirely detrimental to society is still to be seen, but there are also some advantages of social media that positively affect student outcomes.
Positive Impact of Social Media
Some of the positive effects of social media on students:
- The world is smaller, and thus, students are more diverse in their thinking about their interactions. You may wonder if it’s too diverse with the many protests going on college campuses lately, but it does show the students are thinking about more than a single viewpoint than they have been taught. Of course, you could argue that some students have taken their demands for inclusivism to the point where they are promoting divisiveness and biases towards other people’s viewpoints, but that is a topic for another post.
- The noise that is negative listed above can also be positive. Because there is so much noise on the net, some students have become better at weeding out the unimportant stuff and absorbing what is important. This is one of the positive impact social media may have when it comes to education. Students understand better how to research topics utilizing a variety of sources and in some instances, social media can be an excellent resource for statistical type instruction. This does show that in this connected world, there is a place for librarians and instruction on how to effectively do research using search engines and evaluating resources for validity.
- Students now have the ability to reach out to industry experts across disciplines, and this can help the students locate more authoritative sources of information. This is a tricky endeavor, and students must be taught how to evaluate the source of data even when it may come from a supposed expert.
- It is easy for students to collaborate on various team projects using social media platforms. They can create Facebook groups or even just use Twitter hashtags to communicate about a project and share ideas. This can also be done in mediums such as email. Still, social media give the promise of keeping the conversations open and even comfortable for the educator to view threads and determine if everyone on the team is participating.
These are just a few of the many impacts social media and technology have had on education and society as a whole. Technology is moving at an ever-increasing pace, so no list will ever be entirely complete, and as mentioned above, any documents even this one must be evaluated as to whether it makes sense in this connected world of increasing noise. While the advances in educational technology have had a positive impact on education, social media can not be grouped into that same level advantages to educators.