The last decade and a half has seen the online world go through a significant metamorphosis majorly due to the increase of the social media sites. Domine, (2009), defines social media as a relationship that exists amongst individuals through a variety of networks majorly the internet. A research from the MIT in 2015 showed that 90% of American teens are engaged in and of this number, 95% are highly active member with more than one social media profile where they share their ideas, personal information as well as pictures and videos (Common Sense Media, 2012). According to Brydolf (2007), at a glance social media has a positive nature on students as it improves their communication skills. However, current trajectories show that as the functions of social media have changed over the years since the early 1980s, when basic individuals were more attracted to internet relay chats than developing virtual avatars of themselves. This paper gives an in-depth analysis of how social media has created a variety of social problems that have altered the lives of college students today.
The concept of communication is a vital aspect of growth both on a personal as well as community basis. A look through history suggests that even the most primitive human species relied on communication as the basic means of survival. Light years into the 21st century the concept, though dissimilar shares common roots. The increased use of the PC in the 1980s can be attributed to todays refined social media sites as this was the first step that saw human interaction shift from a personal face-to-face setting to a more virtual-reality setting though social media (Baldwin, Bedell, & Johnson, 1997). The first popular social media website was ‘Six Degrees’ which was created to allow its users to upload a profile and make a profile that would allow them interact with other operators. A decade down the line saw the development of much user-friendly social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, which held much more communicative, powers and open to the global population. Students at colleges and universities were the first users and a positive spike was seen through its progressive existence as they shared ideas as well as made more positive and widespread interactions (Baldwin, Bedell, & Johnson, 1997). However, by 2014, a research by MIT students showed that social media is currently a significant factor that has seen a drop in performance in these learning institutions. Below are some of the areas that have been negatively been affected by the increased use of social media by collage students.
Reduced Learning and Research Capabilities
The introduction of the internet or online resources in colleges and universities allowed students to widen their spectrum in reference to research of academic material. It is relatively simple for an individual to find information from the internet than any other source today. It should be noted that this was not the case before the early 1980s, when libraries were the main source of academic material and more effort was required for a student to pinpoint specific information. As earlier, this is the notion at a glance; however, research as a skill is not based on finding specific information but understanding and learning more about a particular study. The introduction of social media gave rise to the exchange of websites as well as information without research skills. According to Gerlich, Browning, and Westermann, (2013), the number of academic study sites on the internet have been developed due to student needs that have been expressed in social media sites. For instance, sites such as trempaperwarehouse.com as well as other database websites of its kind are the brainchild of social media needs highlited by students who favor much simpler means of achieving information without actual research. According to a research by MIT showed that approximately 85% of the active student on social media have dropped points in the annual promotional test such as GPA’s (Junco, Merson, & Salter, (2014; Rosen et al, 2014). This drop has been highlited on the excessive dependence on social media to provide answers a factor that would be reduced by research.
In the 1988 when the first popular social media site was launched, its purpose was to encourage internet relay chat. Social media in its initial phace was based to widen the scope of interaction between individuals through the world wide net; this would increase communication in a global scope. However, the current most used social media sites such as Facebook, twitter as well as WhatsApp have transformed the functions of social media with more emphasis being placed on the entertainment than interaction. Reynol Junco (2012) in his manuscript titled ‘too much face and not enough books’; states that the metaphases of social media from internet relay to sharing of videos, photos as well as creating virtual avatars of users has seen individuals spend more time on social media sites than before. In the case of Facebook, the social site was made for students at Harvard University; however, due to the improvements in technology from other social sites it only took one year for the site to gain global recognition. The number of hours spent on Facebook by student’s form this time has been significant enough to negatively affect studies as the time used is drawn from study hours. Reynol (2012) clearly indicates in a study he conducted time spent on social media and more specifically Facebook, negatively related to the GPA of students. This was highlighted in the fact that time spent on social media negatively related to time spent studying.
Declining of Health
The 21st century has seen a wide spread of a variety of diseases, most of which is derived from an individual’s lifestyle. Currently health issues stem from a variety of sources; for instance, the web 2.0 environment, which is categorized by poor feeding habits from interment addiction, is considered a significant source of health related issues (Margaryan, Littlejohn, & Vojt, 2011; Lusk, 2010). In the 1980s, when PC became household accessories internet use was not heavy as seen today. Currently, varieties of devices ranging from portable computers to other smart devices, including phones and electronic tablets have been developed to allow users to stay online despite their location. A research by the University of Texas has shown a number of electronic devices manufactures mainly phones have used social media as a selling point in attracting potential customers allowing them to remain online virtually at all time. This has consequently led to the increase of problematic internet use (PIU) or internet addiction as explained by Jacobsen and Forste (2011). PUI or internet addiction is defined as the psychological dependence on the internet and is majorly cause by social media. The high number of hours spent on social media has led to individuals developing virtual realities that have led to internet addiction. The consequences of this addiction are primarily poor feeding habits with students known not have regular meals, not having health meals opting for fast foods, and depending on energy drinks to keep them up for long hours. Lack of regular healthy food as well as lack of sleep in addition to the psychological pressure from the online life is bound to cause health issues (Schill, 2011).
Infringement of Security/Privacy Issues
Currently the information shared on social media is highly sensitive and personal making an individual vulnerable to fraud as well as harassment. Six Degrees was set up only to use an individual’s email information in order to aid in the management of the said profile. Currently social sites such as Facebook highlight information, including name; religious as well as political views; online plus offline contact data; birthday; sexual preference and relationship status; educational information; phone numbers and picture. By the time an individual fills in the sign in form the social site has a comprehensive know how of who one is and whom they know. For students this is dangerous as it is easy to harass, radicalize as well as hurt them in a fraudulent manner. Kalpidou, Costin, and Morris (2014), states that over the last past decade terrorist as well as other illegal sects have used social media sites to recruit some of their new members 90% of whom are university as well as college students. Unlike the other above-mentioned factors that are indiscriminate and affect a high number of students’ security issues are currently highly monitored with jail sentences set by the US government against any individual found indulging in internet harassment or radicalization (Tokunaga, 2010).
Over the last decade, the increasing use of social media has seen the increasing use of social media majorly among the youth in colleges and universities. At a glance, the capabilities provided by social media seem to improve communication skill between individuals who would like to communicate with their peers. However, there exist significant research results suggesting that social media has resulted in students dropping in their performance due to three major factors. Firstly, social media has allowed students to share information that has resulted in a drop in research skills. Links from websites as well as direct information and is being shared by students about academic work taking away the necessity of fact finding during an academic course. Secondly, because of the virtual realities developed by students the time spent on social media is significant. This time is drawn straight from study periods, suggesting a waste of time. Thirdly, student’s health has come into question with individuals skiping regular meals, depending on fast foods as well as energy drinks to keep them awake for longer hours online. Lastly, student privacy as well as security is highly under threat considering the information required to form a special media profile. With the above issues mentioned, it is clear that the performance of any student who highly indulges in social media activities is bound to drop.
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