The increase in the use of tablets, laptops, and mobile phones in schools, homes, and the workplace illustrates the integration of portable devices in the day-to-day activities of most people. The sophistication in information technology has facilitated the creation of internet applications and platforms that are compatible with most brands of mobile phones and computers.
Technological advancements have significantly increased the number of people who communicate in real-time, share ideas, and exchange content such as videos and pictures with colleagues in different locations. Enhanced Internet platforms and architecture have led to the emergence of social networking services, which are increasingly becoming the main channel for exchange of information, interaction and building of contacts through websites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Google Plus.
The explosion of social media has led to a significant increase in the number of students carrying tablets and mobile phones to school. While portable devices facilitate communication, they have become increasingly important to students who want to stay updated on the happenings in social media.
Belonging to a social media network had become fashionable for Generation Y and an important subject of discussion among children and adults. An analysis of the available evidence on the use of social media in school settings illustrates the detrimental effects of social networking on students’ concentration.
Social media websites offer numerous opportunities, such as the integration of social media into school learning, which students and teachers can exploit to improve their learning objectives and excellence. The ability to differentiate between productive content and nonsense in social media can help students to identify educative content and remain focused on their educational goals.
Social media websites such as Facebook enable students to join educative groups and Facebook pages where students from different locations collaborate to improve their knowledge by sharing educative texts, audios, and videos. The support for the free download of e-books and tutorials using social media links is becoming a common concept for companies that market their educational materials on social media.
The expansive social media community provides students with a wide pool of knowledge that can considerably improve a student’s knowledge of current affairs, which form an integral part of subjects such as history and economics. The demand for the management of the expanding network of friends in social media helps students to nurture management skills.
The virtual nature of social media is raising concerns among psychologists who perceive social networking as a threat to the development of personal and emotional elements in the process of interaction. Social networking threatens the process of social and emotional development by extracting individuals from the real world and discontinuing their connection with reality.
Psychologists attribute social networking to the manifestation of feelings of exclusion and isolation among most social media users considering that social networking has become the norm for almost all age groups. The attentiveness of a student determines his or her level of understating of the reading materials and the ability to apply the content taught in the classroom in tests and assignments.
Education experts mainly attribute poor performance in students to low concentration, which hampers the contextualization of reading materials because an inattentive student is likely to misinterpret the teaching objectives. The detrimental effects of social media on students’ concentration are evident in a survey by researchers from California University. The survey shows that students with a tendency to spend most of their time on Facebook exhibit behavioral problems, which limit the amount of time they allocate to studying.
The researchers monitored the study habits of students, which illustrated a pattern of concentration lapse among frequent users of Facebook (Paul et al. 2125). The results of the experiment indicate that the frequency of the use of Facebook directly influences the level of students’ concentration. The experiment shows that after every three minutes, frequent users of Facebook stop studying to check new comments and update their Facebook page.
An interview conducted by JCA involving about five hundred teachers highlights the existence of a relationship between the over-use of social media, poor concentration, and antisocial behavior among students. The interview shows that the engagement in social networking significantly alters students’ attention span, which has led to a decline in the number of students who complete their homework on time (Engelberg and Sjoberg 43).
The interviewed teachers complained that the poor quality of the assignments presented by students was a sign of the lack of concentration when tackling the assignment. About a third of the teachers attributed the poor quality of assignments to the tendency by students to complete their assignments in a hurry, which allows enough time for communication with their friends on social media.
The teachers confirmed that the performance of students who spent most of their time on social media was poorer compared to the performance of students who rarely visited social media websites. The fixation on social networking interferes with the teacher-student communication by blocking real human contact, which leads to delays in the reception and interpretation of teachers’ words and explanation in the classroom.
The frequent use of social media negatively affects interpersonal communication, which lowers students’ participation in the classroom leading to poor understanding of ideas and concepts introduced by teachers.
Psychologists attribute the obsession with social networking to the dynamic nature of social media, which causes individuals to invest many hours, especially at night, in maintaining their social networks. Sleep deprivation and excessive tiredness lead to the disengagement of students from the learning process, which causes poor concentration and performance.
Education experts have raised concerns on the increase in the likelihood of children, who frequently engage in social networking, to become withdrawn from school activities that limit access to computers or mobile phones. The manifestation of the effects of social networking on students’ concentration is due to the constantly expanding social media network, which demands that students invest most of their time managing the network.
Psychologists claim that social networking creates an expansive community of peers, which interferes with the traditional structure whereby children learn from adults. Social networking has increased the tendency of children to learn from their peers and ignore the advice of adults whose experience is invaluable. The desire to belong to a social media group diverts students from concentrating on productive and important goals as they attempt to remain relevant to their virtual friends (Kirschner 1241).
The fixation on social media is comparable to a drug addiction, which requires intervention through measures such as guidance and counseling. The aspect of social networking as a psychological problem is evident by the fact that the number of students who carry mobile phones to school for purposes of remaining connected on social media is increasing despite the adoption of regulations by most schools to ban mobile phones.
The excitement regarding social networking has influenced students to neglect their studies and other important aspects of life while diverting their attention to unproductive activities. Students should acknowledge the fact that social media provides a virtual community, which cannot replace the activities and interactions in real life (Young 239). Effective learning requires students to embrace face-to-face communication, which is essential in the interpretation of verbal cues and body language in the learning environment.
A comparison of the benefits and disadvantages of social media on the performance of students illustrates that the frequent use of social media leads to the tendency to allocate most of a student’s time to social networking leaving little or no time for studying. The frequency of the use of social media is directly proportional to the decline in a student’s attention span and academic performance.
Evidence on the amount of time that children spend on social media is a clear indication of the pattern of poor performance among the most active users of social media. Although social networking offers learning opportunities to students, challenges on the implementation of control measures and guidance on the productive use of social media may create a dysfunctional learning environment due to the isolation of students and promotion of poor interaction and communication skills, which cause a decline in students’ performance.
Face-to-face interaction between students and their teachers is essential to the realization of participatory and productive learning. Collaboration between teachers and parents will promote proper monitoring of students’ activities in social media to ensure productivity and educational improvement.
Engelberg, Elisabeth, and Lennart Sjoberg. “Internet Use, Social Skills, And Adjustment.” CyberPsychology Behavior 7.1 (2004): 41-47. Print.
Kirschner, Paul. “Facebook® and academic performance.” Computers in Human Behavior 26.6 (2010): 1237–1245. Print.
Paul, Jomon Aliyas, Hope M. Baker, and Justin Daniel Cochran. “Effect of online social networking on student academic performance.” Computers in Human Behavior 28.6 (2012): 2117-2127. Print.
Young, Kimberly. “Internet Addiction: The Emergence Of A New Clinical Disorder.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 1.3 (1998): 237-244. Print.