Today, internet has become a part of our lives whereas daily activities performed by users on internet are shopping, social networking, and banking etc. etc. Social networking is a major attraction of the internet, and it a blessing, as well as a curse. Social networking is a positive indicator of advancement in education and its practices. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the negative influences that accompany it, which seems as a distractor for many students today.
Students frequently acquaint themselves with computers as they navigate social networks. They gain priceless skills on social networking that has become crucial in the world. Social media encourages networking with a variety of people, which can be viewed as a necessary skill in the business environment. This is the same case for teachers and administrators. With the existence of social blogs, Twitter and Facebook, teachers are able to share and record through various mediums, methods of instructions, as well as teaching theories and practices in real time. Many students are able to expand on techniques for learning, and they can also interact with students on a consistent basis outside of the classroom.
The rise in social media and developments in other interactive communicative technologies has produced negative effects in and outside of the classroom. Social media is seen as a positive tool for education. Social media has the potential to obstruct students’ performance, social growth and communication skills. It can also affect overall efficiency of a teacher in several ways. The questions that stand in front of us are: (a) What factors are directly responsible for the inability to educate students effectively, and (b) How are teachers affected by social media both inside and outside the classroom?
Access to the internet for educational purposes would be seen as a great resource for information; however, for students, the internet poses many challenging factors in academic performance. Generally, children who spend more time online find it harder to concentrate resulting in shorter attention spans. Students who rely on social media for information instead of researching other resources are likely to experience difficulty focusing on learning and information retention. It significantly affects study habits as if students attempted to multitask, because students are too busy tweeting or posting messages to Facebook in lieu of completing assignments.
Developments in technology and excessive access to technology are direct factors on how social media has affected the student in and out of the classroom. Today, students spend most of their time on social networks via mobile devices. Some schools forbid the uses of these devices; however, many students take these devices into their schools. Students use such devices to record videos, take photos of themselves, search the internet, and tweet and log on to Facebook, thus making it difficult for them to concentrate during instruction time. Many of these activities have led to many problems in the school and community, for example, fights, harassment, and lawsuits etc. Expensive and unproductive time spent on social networks can be very unhealthy, and it can negatively affect teens and children. We can argue that teaching and learning is directly in competition with social media when they have partnered in educating students.
The use of social networks has also significantly reduced the use of proper Grammar and syntax in writing. Today, students are finding it difficult to differentiate between the proper use of language as a result of abbreviated writing and shortened forms of word creation. Many slang terms have become common in written class assignments. The Terms SMH (Shaking My Head), IDK (I Don’t Know), YW (You’re Welcome), BTW (By The Way), TNX (Thanks), and IMO (In My Opinion) have advanced in students writing so much that they are unable to understand the differences between the right and wrong way of spelling correctly. Teachers see the decline in proper writing in capitalization, punctuation, and subject-verb agreements. Students are so immersed in poor Grammar usage while they rely heavily on computer devices online to autocorrect their mistakes resulting in the decrease of their command over the use of English language, subsequently creating a conflict in Grammar usage.
A key point that should not be overlooked is the effect of social media on face to face communication. If students spend more time on social networks, then we can agree that they spend less time socializing in person. Lack of face to face interpersonal interactions can be directly connected with the lack of social skills and etiquette. We learn significant behaviors and emotional cues from close personal contacts that cannot be learned online. Some students never learn to read body signals and other nonverbal cues like tone and inflection. Social networking websites should not be seen as an alternate to personal contact, instead it should be seen as a valuable addition that can create well-rounded socially adjusted individuals.
Today, many students have become less social with one another, and they prefer to interact online and live in a virtual world based on false personas. This of course can have a lasting effect on the family unity, where effective face to face communication is essential in maintaining health relationships. Can we cast some of the blame of today’s social ills and breakdown in family structure on social media? We often go to restaurants and public places where we see everyone busy on device with little face to face communication going on. The question is how we can create a balance. How can we compete with the valuable tool (internet) whilst still maintaining healthy relationships?
Social media networking affects both students and teachers. Cyber-bullying is seen as the leading negative aspect of social media. Many times violence in schools start via a social networking site. Teachers are also affected by cyber-bullying. The wrongdoers are sometimes students or parents. This abuse can be very damaging for a teacher as it minimizes the overall efficiency and confidence in the classroom. Defamation of character is very common in the cyber world, and it continues to affect both teachers and students.
Social media affects all of us in some way whether positive or negatively. Technology will continue to evolve; therefore, it is imperative that parents, teacher’s administrators and students all join hands together in encouraging positive, fruitful, effective, safe, and responsible use of the valuable tool—internet. The long-term effects of misuse can be very dangerous for students to progress in education and social development.