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INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL NETWORKING MEDIA ON STUDENTS ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION

INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL NETWORKING MEDIA ON STUDENTS ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION

Abstract

Participation with technology for social purposes has become the mainstream communication method for many people in the past several years. In particular, university undergraduates have adopted these forms of communication as the paramount way to keep with family and friends. Social networking websites, such as Facebook, 2go, twitter, and Myspace are the most popular places for these

Students to spend their time. This paper examines both the negative and positive   influence of social networking participation among students in technology education and how its involvement affects academic performance, future plans and overall attitude towards school. The negative influence of using the social networking sites include: problems in school, time wastage, health and psychological effects, multitasking and cyber bullying. The positive influence includes communication, socialization, collaboration, entertainment and getting educational information such as research materials. Suggestions were made to ensure that social networking sites are adopted mostly for academic purposes.

INTRODUCTION

          The increased use of social networking sites has become an international phenomenon in the past several years. What started as a hobby for some computer literate people has become a social norm and way of life for people from all over the world (Boyd, 2007). Most students and adults have especially embraced these sites as a way to connect with their peers, share information, reinvent their personalities and showcase their social lives (Boyd, 2007).

          The idea of social networking has existed for several decades as a way for people to communicate socially and build relationships with others (Coyle & Vaughn, 2008). With the increase of technology used for communicating with others and popularity of the internet, “Social Networking” has become an activity that is primarily done on the internet. It may therefore be defined as a web-based service that allows individuals to

  • Construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system
  • Articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection and,
  • View and transverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (Boyd & Ellison 2008)

     The issue of whether social networking influence student’s academic performance is often depended on the larger issues identified with the overall use of SNS (e.g., its psychological effects; individual self-discipline and self-regulation concerns, human adaptability concerns). Tuckmann (1975) defined performance as the apparent demonstration of understanding concepts, skills, ideas and knowledge of a person and proposed with grades that clearly depict the performance of a student.  Shah, Kwak and Holbert (2001) proposed that student users are affected by the Internet and this impact is determined by the type of Internet usage. They are positively affected by the informative use of the internet while having drastic impact on recreational use of internet on them. Also, Oskouei (2010) proposed that internet is advantageous to both students and teachers if used as a tool of knowledge creation and dissemination. The effect of SNS usage by technology education students will depend on the type of SNS the student is using, if the student is using the internet for the purpose of leisure activity, It will interfere with his/her academics and affect the student’s academic performance negatively. Therefore, it is imperative for technology education students to use the social networking media for academic purposes such as getting research materials.

     Technology education is broadly defined as “education which is mainly to lead participants to acquire the practical skills, know- how and understanding necessary for employment in a particular occupation, trade or group of occupations” (Atchoarena & Delluc, 2001). It also refers to the study of technology in which students “learn about the processes and knowledge related to technology”. As a field of study, it covers the human ability to shape and change the physical world to meet needs, by manipulating materials and tools with techniques. Its aims according to the National Policy on Education (2004) are;

  • To provide trained manpower in applied science, technology and commerce particularly at sub-professional level.
  • To provide technical knowledge and vocational skill necessary for agricultural, industrial, commercial and economic development.
  • To provide people who can apply scientific knowledge to the improvement of and solution of environmental problems for use and convenience of man.

According to Fafunwa (2004) graduates of technical education usually bridge the gap between the professional engineer and the craftsman. It is therefore necessary for these students to efficiently use their time. Where a student in general education offers 6-10 courses per semester, a student in technology education offers more courses and has a greater workload. Such student’s use of the social media need to be restricted to academic purpose as an alternate use may result in poor academic performance.

Some of the negative influence of SNS on students’ performance is given; problems in school, Time wastage, Health and psychological effects, Multi-tasking, Cyber bullying.

  1. Problem in School; Social networking sites as well as other new forms of communication technology to many school professionals because of the level of distraction they create within the school (Greenfield & Subrahmanyam, 2008). Even though many schools and some lecturers have created many strict rules that forbid the use of handheld technology during school or lecture hours, many students are still able to connect during school hours as the please (Greenfield & Subrahmanyam, 2008). This has caused distractions during instruction time and has had a negative impact on the learning environment. Social media has become a major distraction to students, causing the overall performance of students to decline, especially the ones who tend to check their Facebook and Twitter while studying. Students who use social networking sites in class find it harder to concentrate in class, are permanently distracted and have shorter attention spans (Boyd, 2007). Many teachers are also worried at the increase in the number of students who are using text-speak or social networking chat- such as 2mor, msg, lol, and bk in place of english grammer. A research carried out concludes that students with the poorest grades at school are the ones who spent most times on social networking. This has caused distractions during instruction time and has had a negative impact on the learning environment.
  2. Time Wastage; It is imperative to realize that the time spent in social activities will be on the account of academic performance. This logic is important regardless of the positive side we see in SNS. A study that utilized students in a US university concluded to a negative relationship between time spent by students on online social networks and their academic performance (Paul, Baker & Cochran, 2012). The authors pointed to the importance of attention span devoted to multiple sources of attractions. Such a result indicates the importance of using Facebook and other social media tools wisely and towards a productive time in classrooms and back home. Social networking sites also decreases productivity as so many students’ end up spending the better part of their study hours checking those sites. Rather than get their assignments done, they spend the whole time either tweeting or posting messages on facebook. There is bound to be a reduction in students’ focus of attention when they are studying and chatting the same time trying to get involved in activities on these social sites. This often causes a drastic reduction in their academic performance.
  3. Health and Psychological Effects; A social networking sites have risen in popularity over the past years, people have been spending an excessive amount of time on the internet in general and social networking sites in specific. This has led researchers to debate the establishment of internet addiction as an actual clinical disorder. Social networking can also affect the extent to which a person feels lonely. In a news week article, Johannah Cornblatt explains “social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace may provide people with a false sense of connection that ultimately increases loneliness in people who feel alone”. Sabatini & Sarracino (2010) found that if an individual tends to (a) trust people and (b) have a significant number of face-to-face interactions, the individual is likely to access their own well-being as relatively high. The researchers found that online social networking plays a positive role in subjective well-being when the networking is used to facilitate physical interactions, but networking activities that do not facilitate face to face interactions tend to erode trust, and this erosion can then negatively affect subjective well-being (independent of the online social interaction itself. Sabatini & Sarracino concluded that “The overall effect of networking on individual welfare is significantly negative”. However, some scholars have expressed that concerns about social networking are often exaggerated and poorly researched.

Furthermore, students that are addicted to SNS delay their meals and have sleepless night due to social network activities (Tariq, Mehboob, Khan & Ullah, 2012). It will be difficult for a student having health issues to study effectively, thus resulting in poor academic performance.

  1. Multitasking; Students GPA will be influenced badly by multitasking in classrooms (using multiple social media tools). A study that focused on the issue of multitasking in classrooms concluded to the fact that students who involve in multitasking (example like: text messaging, Facebook, internet searching, emailing and instant messaging) would have lower GPA, which means lower academic performance based on their behavior (Burak, 2010). When it comes to studying, multitasking is ineffective. While it may seem like multitasking could be a good thing, research has shown that people who are mutitasking are not doing two things at the same time. Instead, they are shifting back and forth quickly between tasks. The result of this movement is that performance suffers on both tasks, and people who are multitasking are less likely to remember information later (Dzubak, 2008). there may be other areas where multitasking is useful; however, studying and problem solving require deep concentration, and interruptions and distractions make it harder to focus and decrease your chances of recalling information later thereby leading to poor academic performance.
  2. Cyber bullying; participating in online social networks also increases the likelihood of being victimized online or cyber-bullied (Mesch, 2009). Mesch defined cyber-bullying as the use of communication technology, such as SNSs to harm or bully others. Forms of cyber bullying include harassing emails, web pages, hateful instant messages, text messages, and cruel posts on social networking sites. The result of cyber-bullying can be embarrassment, feelings of belittlement, low self-esteem and even suicide. According to Boyd (2007) there are not many limitations as to what individuals can post when online. Individuals are given the power to post offensive remarks or pictures that could potentially cause a great amount of emotional pain for another individual. Some of the signs of cyber bullying include:
  • Being emotionally upset during or after using the internet or the phone
  • Being very secretive or protective of one’s digital life
  • Withdrawal from family members, friends and activities
  • Avoiding school or group activities
  • Slipping grades and acting out in anger at home
  • Changes in mood, behavior, sleep, or appetite
  • Wanting to stop using the computer or cellphone
  • Being nervous or jumpy when getting an instant message, text, or email
  • Avoiding discussions about computer or cellphone activities

A student having such issues will find it difficult to study thereby leading to poor academic performance.

Positive Influence of Social Networking Sites

Though there are many risks in social networking on students’ academic performance in technology education, it important to point out the benefits of these websites as well. They include; Communication, Socialization, Collaboration, Entertainment, Getting educational information

  1. Communication; Using SN as an informal learning tool is helpful and convenient for discussions and communication (Hamat, Embi & Hassan, 2012). Students are able to communicate with their peers through the group chat. No longer is the communication one way, broadcast or somehow sent to a passive audience since it engages all the students to make contributions. The social media encourages contributions and reactions from anyone who is interested. ‘Encourage’ is the key here; social media solicits an interaction, positive and negative, by making it easy to contribute. Churchil (2009) showed that the use of weblogs or “blogs” (social publishing) in education facilitated a useful learning atmosphere. Tweets also improve English language education (VanVooren&Bess, 2013)
  2. Socialization; Social network is a strong tool for social interaction and connection, where it can improve family ties and friends in a rich social context. A study on 161 Tunisian students concluded that performance was improved because of students’ satisfaction with their family and friends relations (Rouis, 2012).

Educators and advocators of new digital illiteracies are confident that social networking encourages the development of transferable, technical, and social skills of value in formal and informal learning. In formal learning environment, goals or objectives are determined by an outside department or agency. Tweeting, instant messaging, or blogging enhances student involvement. Students who would not normally participate in class are more apt to partake through social network services. Networking allows participants the opportunity for just in time learning and higher levels of engagement. Informal learning consists of the learner setting the goals and objectives. It has been claimed that media no longer just influence our culture. They are our culture. Participants hone technical skills in choosing to navigate through social networking services. SNS foster learning through what Jenkins (2006) describes as “participatory culture”. A participatory culture consists of a space that allows engagement, sharing, mentoring, and an opportunity for social interaction.

  1. Collaboration; SNS facilitates group work collaboration. It aims to cater for individual differences, develop students’ knowledge, generic skills (e.g. critical thinking) and attitudes. Collaboration is working with others to do a task and to achieve shared goals. Social networking site encourages knowledge sharing, learning and building consensus among individuals. Students are exposed to more channels for finding academic resources, thus improving their academic achievement. SNSs like Facebook and twitter serve as a knowledge sharing tool (Forkosh-Baruch &Hershkovitz, 2012). James (2004) suggests that affinity spaces instantiate participation, collaboration, distribution, dispersion of expertise, and relatedness. Registered users share and search for knowledge which contributes to informal learning. Students are able to exchange assignments, resources and discussions around educational material and issues (Asad, AbdullahAl-Mamun& Clement, 2012).
  2. Entertainment; According to Hopewell (2005), hard and industrious work are necessary to achieve our goals in life. But concentration on work alone with no recreation tends to make a person dull and unsociable. The minds constitution is such that it can work for a long time. But at the same time, proper relaxation is necessary to keep it from getting overtaxed.

Furthermore, a relaxed mind is a rejuvenated one. It retrieves all its capacities to absorb knowledge after proper recreation. Students using video, creating blogs, chatting and communicating with friends is a good tool for learning with entertainment and fun (Zaidieh, 2012).

  1. Getting Educational Information; SNSs such as English, baby!, and LiveMocha, are explicitly education focused and couple instruction content with an educational peer environment. The new web 2.0 technologies built into most social networking services promote conferencing, interaction, creativity, research on a global scale, enabling educators to share, remix and repurpose curriculum resources. In short, SNS can become research networks as well as learning networks (Yinus&Salehi, 2012). Social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and ResearchGate give the possibility to join professional groups and pages, to share papers and results, publicize events, to discuss issues and create debates.

Suggestions

The following suggestions are made

  1. Students should minimize text alert distractions by turning off their phones during lectures
  2. Students can eliminate internet distractions by keeping their browsers close when not using it.
  3. Students should explore those sites that provide academic topics like research topic and journals.
  4. Students should delete unnecessary applications on their phones.
  5. Technology students should block access to or limit the amount of time they spend on certain website.

Conclusion

Students are exposed to the internet and they are not shy in using it for research and career activities, to upgrade their academic knowledge. Most universities have put in place internet facilities that will help student achieve their academic goals. This is because, communication is changing and more emphasis must be placed on how educators can help students enjoy the benefits of social networking while also recognizing the problems they may create. This paper tried to explore the literature to come up with the major dimensions that internet/ SNSs influence the behavior of students. These tools that contribute to a better performance are: Communication, Socialization, Collaboration and Entertainment.

On the other hand, social networking is reported to have bad influences like addiction, time wastage, information overload (from multitasking), and isolation from physical society. Such results call for more need to see a tradeoff between social network advantages and disadvantages. Also, it is important to explore such factors and how they interact with the educational system.

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