Although it started out as a hobby amongst computer geeks, the social media, and more so Facebook has turned out as a way of life for many students in High School, college, and higher education institutions. Increased use of the social media has become a global trend in many learning institutions with many students using it as the key to social networking for information sharing, connecting with their friends, highlighting their social participation and lives, and reinventing their personality attributes. Exchange of information and communication has become an instant occurrence with ease of access and socialization taking place all through the day in a student’s life. Additionally, the invention and the emergence of the Smartphone and reduced cost of internet charges has made access to social sites a natural trend with many students’ abandoning the traditional social aspect of life. This paper looks into the contribution of the social media and more so Facebook as an impediment in a student’s learning process.
Recent research has focused more on the consequences of the social media, with little emphasis on the side effects of social networking with students learning process (Kirschner et al. 1240). According to scientists, the human brain works best under concentration and focus. Scientists argue that any form of destruction has negative consequences on knowledge absorption. Studies indicate that, the human brain is organized in, such as way that if given indepth focus on a subject, it retains information better than in an environment with destruction and interference. As a process, the student and knowledge become one in an environment that has a high level of focus and concentration. In order to acquire, modify, reinforce information, values, skills, behavior, and preferences, the student has the sole mandate to engage with the knowledge as one without any form of interference in between. Any type or form of destruction naturally interferes with knowledge and skill acquisition and absorption. The figure below shows the learning process from a scientific perspective.
In order for the learning process to be successful, the process has to complete with the student absorbing each and every step. Any interference and destruction in any given level or part hinder full acquisition of information or knowledge.
The figure below shows the top most destructive activities while on a given social network.
A closer look at student’s lifestyle and academic engagement reveals that social networking forms a fundamental component of everyday engagement. On many occasions, students’ have used and involved social sites such as Facebook during their day to day learning with many forming study groups commonly known as Facebook study groups (Kirschner et al. 1237). These groups have become common in many learning institutions whereby, the students use the platform to share, communicate, and update each other on their academic progress, discussion groups, and keeping tab with their learning. Although the idea behind an academic, social group is prudent, engaging each other through the social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Tagged is gradually eroding any gains that may be made from the concept.
Many students concur that social engagement through the social media and mostly through Facebook has brought out the best in them in addition to helping them counter their weaknesses in the academic sphere. However, looking at the features of the Facebook platform, it becomes challenging to concentrate only on academic details shared in a group (Kirschner et al. 1239). As a social site, many advertisements, attractive features, adult content, and interesting designs may cause the unnecessary distraction to a student keen on getting the best from the discussion group. It, therefore, becomes challenging to concentrate on learning or sharing academic details in a forum or platform that is not purely academic.
Kirschner et al.( 1236) and DeAndrea et al. (16) concur that the social media remains one of the most exciting inventions of the 21st century. As a new concept and technology, many people all over the world never want to stay ignorant on the development and trends unfolding. Additionally, the entry and reduced prices of Smartphone’s has increased the internet and social networking to high levels. As the most dynamic and youthful grouping, students form a big percentage of participants in the social network. As it stands out, the new invention has proven to outdo old traditional forms of communication and socialization has made it the “in-thing” and style of the century. Recent studies and research have shown that students remain the most active on social media with over 98 percent having an active presence on Facebook. Keeping updated and in touch with the latest trends have formed the norm of the century as many students spend as much as 5 hours actively on Facebook and other social networking forums. The need to keep up with the latest gossip, breaking news, fashion, music, and movies have pushed the students to keep their Facebook gadgets at close range (DeAndrea et al. 18).
According to recent studies on the effect of the social media on students’ lives, many active Facebook adherents had their account active and logged in all through the day. It thus means that students access their accounts during lecture hours or study time. The excitement and thrill of having an active life on Facebook often push students to ignore some of the most important aspects of education such as study hours. DeAndrea et al. (17) argue that taking time to log in to their Facebook accounts and keep up with the latest trends not only eats into study hours but also causes the distraction. Taking one’s mind away from a lecture or study is the number one cause of student failure and development of poor academic records. According to professors and lecturers, students who keep checking their Smartphones’ and logging into their Facebook accounts record the poorest and lowest grades as compared to students who do not access their social media accounts. According to the lecturers and professors, the distraction caused by Facebook and the social networking forums hinders students from participating actively in the lecture and or mastering taught concepts (DeAndrea et al. 18). Although affected students do not acknowledge this phenomenon, observed trends and statistics show the obvious.
Psychologists and media pundits have often considered the social media and networking amongst the youth and students as an addiction. According to studies, the number of hours students take on the social platform and mostly on Facebook is more than the number of times they take on private studies. The figure below shows statistics on the presence and participation of students in the social media with greater emphasis paid to some of the most common activities undertaken.
From the diagram, it is apparent that Facebook participation, such as commenting on photos’, reading articles takes the greatest amount of time of students. As compared to other forms of social media such as Google and Twitter, Facebook activities amongst student rates highest. Research further indicates that active involvement of students on social networks is most prevalent during odd hours such as class time, study time, or mealtime at home (Pasek et al. 26). According to analysts, students consider the learning process as a cumbersome and involving exercise, with Facebook participation taking up as the remedy. Additionally, research indicates that within the span of 24 hours, students take over 5 hours on social media alone. For example, upon waking up, the first activity a student does is to check their Facebook account instead of preparing for classwork. On reaching the lecture hall, while waiting for the lecturer, students take much of their time updating their status on Facebook and commenting on their friends status. In between the lecture, break, and during physical activity exercises, students take most of the time doing the same, a trend that is repeated over all through the day (Kirschner et al. 1238).
As their only source of entertainment and networking, students have little idea of the effect of the social media and Facebook on their academic life. Not only do they get encouragement from parents and peers, in addition to their lecturers, they also have formed the opinion that the internet is their only source of intellectual material. With this kind of mentality, much time goes into minor issues that do not relate to academics, further wasting time and causing a lot of distraction. It becomes challenging convincing students that social grouping such as Facebook is unworthy and may result in failure and poor performance in academics (Pasek et al. 34). Therefore, in their opinion and perspective, keeping tab with Facebook updates, is healthy and does not warrant poor performance. It, therefore, connotes that, they gradually develop an ignorant attitude towards time wastage and the distraction because of time spent on the internet. In a research carried out amongst students from the Sandtown High School, 67 percent acknowledged that they consider Facebook involvement as a healthy and non-destructive habit. In fact, they find the time they spend on Facebook as a refreshing hour, in which they take a break from theoretical knowledge in class.
A study in the same institution showed that the majority (over 80 percent) of the student who owns Smartphone’s and tablets do not perform well in class work and rarely complete their assignments on time (DeAndrea et al. 17). On the other hand, students who do not own tablets and Smartphones register good performance, are highly attentive, and participate well I class. Additionally, lecturers also noted that students who do not access their Facebook accounts while in class or studying show the highest level of engagement with the professor outside the classroom. From the above research and observation, it is evident that Facebook and active involvement in the social media cause distraction, a negative and destructive habit that may cause damage to a student’s performance.
According to a study by a psychologist on the attention span of students, results obtained indicated that students had an average of 3 minutes full-time concentration on a given task (DeAndrea et al. 17). According to the study, the majority of students in the research took much time on their phones, music, movies, and watching television. The study revealed that their Smartphones’ caused a major distraction a habit that slowed down their concentration level, hence poor absorption of new knowledge. The study showed that students who consumed much with Facebook switched back and forth during the study. Only students who kept on their tasks longer became better at the exercise. DeAndrea et al (18), concur that the poor performing students were the ones who kept in touch with their smartphones’ all through the exercise. The study clearly indicated that with little distraction from social networking, students become better at their education, while a lot of distraction causes inadequate involvement and participation in class work.
Facebook and the social media as a whole is the number one cause of poor student performance. From the above analysis and observation, it is evident that to get the best from a lecture; students ought to have full attention to the ongoing class discussion or lecture. Any form of destruction that hinders concentration is a clear pointer to the reduced learning process. To learn effectively without interference, students need to avoid the social media and improve their consistency. Any minute taken away from the process of learning during a learning session is detrimental to the healthy process of knowledge accumulation.
DeAndrea, David C., et al. “Serious social media: On the use of social media for improving students’ adjustment to college.” The Internet and higher education 15.1 (2012): 15-23.
Kirschner, Paul A., and Aryn C. Karpinski. “Facebook® and Academic Performance.” Computers in human behavior 26.6 (2010): 1237-1245.
Pasek, Josh, and Eszter Hargittai. “Facebook and Academic Performance: Reconciling a media sensation with data.” First Monday 14.5 (2009).