Most of us are members of social networking site Facebook including myself. In fact, there are hundreds and millions of users worldwide who are regularly changing their status, uploading photos or chatting to friends. Facebook has become a huge part of many of our lives including a huge number of young people, teenagers and children.
With so many young people using Facebook does this have an impact on their education? A study reported in Time Magazine in April suggests that social networking sites such as Facebook could be damaging student’s grades.
The study conducted at Ohio Dominican University by Aryn Karpinski tested the GPA (grade point averages) of 219 students. The GPA of Facebook users came out on average 1 grade point lower than non-users. Kaprinski told Time “Maybe [Facebook users] are just prone to distraction. Maybe they are just procrastinators,” she did however clarify that the study did not directly suggest that Facebook lowers grades.
Students have problems with focus
Much of the education today is based around computers and this causes many problems. Students deviate from their work at alarming speed, almost as soon as my back was turned. Students are unable to focus on online tasks and attention spans are poor.
Even the most pleasant and obedient student could not resist the pull of Facebook during a computer session. This constant switching between their work and Facebook cannot aid learning, particularly with the more complex tasks.
Such dedication to accessing Facebook in class suggests that they have become dependent on these sites to conduct their daily lives. But could this be affecting more than just the grades of my students?
Earlier, BBC published an article entitled ‘Online Networking-Harms Health’citing the findings of Dr Aric Sigman. Dr Sigman wrote an article in the Biologist in which he suggests that the rise in Social Network sites had led to people having less face-to-face contact. Dr Sigman claims that evidence shows that a lack of face-to- face network between people can affect health upsetting genes, hormone levels, immune response and even mental performance. He links this to a potential increased risk of cancer, stokes, heart problems and dementia.
This is not the first time social networking sites have been linked to health problems. A British Neuroscientist wrote in the Daily Mail an article entitled ‘How Facebook addiction is damaging your child’s brain: A leading neuroscientist’s chilling warning’. The article warned about the dangers young people my face if constantly using these sites with attention span highlight as a key concern. Greenfield states ‘ If the young brain is exposed to a world of action and reaction, of instant screen images, such rapid interchange-might accustom the brain to operate over such timescales’.
Talking about new generation
Dr Sigman is certainly worried about where this is all leading as less and less people are interacting away from their computers. “It’s not that I’m old fashioned in terms of new technology, but the purpose of any new technology should be to provide a tool that enhances our lives.” He stated.
What happens now?
It is difficult to see where we go from here; these studies suggest that we can link social networking to health related issues, particularly within the young . This is something that will no doubt continue to be studied and debated for years to come. I would suggest that schools must all take the step of blocking social networking sites, this should not be hindering an education. However I think we must put things into perspective, Facebook is a useful tool in communication which connects people and most of us use recreationally. People share photos, ideas and communicate it is not all bad, at least people are actually communicating!
Maybe it is to be accepted that Facebook and other social networking platforms may just be the legal narcotic of today’s generation.