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The Influence of Social Networking on Student Learning

By Amy Cowen

Social networking is the current revolution of the digital age. Connecting us to our friends and acquaintances and the wider world, social networks are now one of the most popular online pastimes, and many of us spend at least some of our day on them. It is not certain how the world of social networking will look five years from now, but one thing’s for certain – social networks are here to stay, in one form or another.

For all of the benefits that social networks provide, there is one serious downside, and this is a downside that practically every modern student will understand or appreciate to at least some degree. Work avoidance and procrastination are two of the biggest issues that students have to deal with, and with the world filling up with new distractions, the problem is only going to get worse. And on the top of this mountainous problem pile is social networking.

Social Networks are Addictive

When it comes to student learning, you would be forgiven for thinking that social networking is a simple, benign distraction like any other, however here you would be very wrong. Social networking is much more addictive than other potential sources of procrastination. Because social networks links friends, new contacts and acquaintances, users are often afraid of missing out on what these people are up to, and so waste lots of time checking up on their network on a regular basis to see what’s new.

This is why social networking has such a big impact on student learning. Most things can be avoided with the right amount of patience and discipline, but the allure of social networks is simply too strong to avoid for any respectable amount of time. They exploit the fact that we are social animals, and though in normal circumstances social networks can be entertaining and useful, when you have more important things to be doing they can become a burden.

Easy to Access, Hard to Avoid

Social networking is extremely easy to access. While students of yesteryear would have had to of had waited to get home before they could email their friends and use messaging platforms (which were much less distracting than the latest generation of social media applications), today any student with a data connection can access all of their social networks. And because they are so easy to access, lots of students use them, and this in turn makes social networking very difficult to avoid. The end result is that even if you don’t like social networks and don’t want to use them, you are still highly exposed to them, and this can be a distraction in itself.

There are Many Different Choices

Five years ago social networking was still in its infancy. Now the field is much more mature, with loads of different social networks for different purposes, to suit different tastes and perform different tasks. With so many different networks available, many students now juggle multiple social networks and waste even more time than ever.

Social Networking Can Be Positive Too

While social networking is bad for student learning on the whole, it still proves to be academically beneficial in certain situations and for specific purposes. Group hangouts and group messaging are great tools for collaborative learning and project work, and social networks are ideal for the college scenario – for example, contacting someone on your course to ask about an essay or research paper assignment. Furthermore, there are many newer app-based social networks that are much less invasive and addictive than networks such as Facebook and Twitter. These are ideal because they allow students to keep in contact with their friends, but without the temptation to waste time and procrastinate. Social networks can also act as news sources, which is very useful for students who want to keep up to date with the latest discoveries and developments in their field.

How to Succeed as a Social Network User

If you want to prevent social networking from getting in the way of your studies, then you have a number of options available to you. One method is quite extreme, but very effective: don’t take a smartphone to college. Instead, take a basic mobile that can handle calls and texts only. A less extreme option is to simply not install social networking apps on your phone. Another option is to avoid social networks that take the most time to use and are designed to make you want to stay, (the main culprits are Facebook and Twitter).

Social networks are having an increasing influence on student learning, and as long as the number of social networks increases, as well as availability and ease of access, the problem is only going to get worse. However, as an individual you still have the option not to waste time on social networks and use your time more constructively. This is easier said than done, but it can be done.

This article is submitted by Amy Cowen, who is currently working for Aussiewriter essay writing service. Amy has a great experience of work with students – from improving their writing skills to giving career advice, always trying to stay up-to-date with modern eLearning tools and technologies.

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