Social media is no longer a new phenomenon. It might have been two decades ago, but it is now so mainstream that most of the world’s population has an occasional brush with the various platforms. However, most of the people who use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others tend to spend a lot of time scrolling through their feeds. This is true for mature people as well as adolescents and children.
Of course, there are going to have to be tangible effects of this kind of engagement. In the case of students, these effects are more visible and rampant than they were in previous generations. Naturally, some of these effects are positive, and some of them are negative. A critical understanding of both types of effects that accrue from the use of these platforms is paramount since they shape so much of a student’s life.
Advantages of Social Media to Students.
The pros of social media use don’t seem to be many. Nevertheless, since the various platforms are here to stay, knowing about them may help guide students to the positive aspects rather than the negative ones.
Platforms to share ideas and debate on them.
We have to remember that discourse is essential in the mental growth of students. By sharing ideas and discussing them, students end up growing their mental faculties and learning in the process.
After all, the whole point of being a student is so that our children may gain knowledge. Used in the right way the learning process will extend from the classroom and reach into homes of children during after school hours. An after effect could be better grades, and a better understanding of any concept taught in class.
Soqqle, an educational game was built to solve one of the key issues in classroom collaboration. Using aspects of connected learning and game-based learning, students can come together to collaborate and solve problems related to goals and interests that are common to the group.
Sharing study materials.
While not what the proprietors of social media had intended it does still happen. Take the example of a Whatsapp class group. Students, as well as teachers, can share some of the coursework and material they have with others by pressing the send key. This makes things extremely convenient as access to this material is improved. After that school children should be able to have access to these materials everywhere they go since they always have their phones with them. Even Facebook groups can be created with the same purpose in mind.
Nonetheless, a certain degree of care has to be taken so that these platforms don’t end up being used for other mundane purposes. Having a teacher present to moderate and regulate behaviours may be crucial in the long run.
Students rarely get an experiential grasp of what they are taught in class especially if it involves other geographical locations and countries. Case in point students in the U.S.A. are more likely to understand what happens in the U.S. than they are the rest of the world. Social media helps bridge that gap, and suddenly they can understand what happens in third world countries since they have seen it on social media feeds.
This is just one of the benefits of communication between people from different parts of the world.
Disadvantages of Social Media.
The negative side of social media to students is at the moment more prominent than the positive one. Reason being there are few regulatory measures employed by parents. These adverse effects need to be understood so they can be addressed. Examples are like the following:·
Bullying has been known to happen in a lot of school settings. Unfortunately since the advent of social media bullying can now follow victims even past the safety of their homes in the form of Twitter or Facebook notifications. The after effects are just as harmful and include drinking and drug abuse.
Source of distraction.
True to form most people who use social media spend hours upon hours scrolling through other people’s posts. Just the way the creators meant it to be. Since they are busy navigating their newsfeeds, students barely have time to tend to their assignments and study. In extreme cases - which are many in this day and age - sleep deprivation is common from children being on their smartphones most nights. As a result, they can barely pay attention in class from a lack of sleep.
Also worthy of note is that social media technology is quite addictive due to the incorporation of mechanisms that enhance their use. For most people, it is not something that they can just stop using. If you are going to try and control a child’s use of the social media platforms, be aware of this so that any resistance does not end up surprising you.
The potential mental health defects as mentioned by Henry Fersko in an article for UNICEF could have dire implications on the quality of life for each student. Also, for school children, it might be hard to learn anything if you are continually suffering from depression or any other mental ailment. Controlling the use social media by learners could go a long way in preventing early onset of mental illnesses.
The social inclusion/exclusion aspect.
Social exclusion may act as an inhibitor to our intelligent thought processes. Being lonely is therefore not going to be a conducive emotional state for anyone looking to gain knowledge. Social media may, however, exacerbate feelings of loneliness which are on the rise because children use social media as a crutch rather than have face to face interactions. If your friends are having interactions without you, it’s only natural to feel excluded.
Social media feeds brings such interactions to a student’s attention on their timeline, and as a result, they feel left out and alone. As health Journalist Jenni Gritters explains the above scenarios can lead to inhibited intelligence. If the brain is only functioning half as well as it is supposed to, then the individual will miss out on the bulk of information disseminated in classrooms.
As it stands, the various social media platforms are here to stay. As a guardian to a student, this might make your parenting work a whole lot harder. Even so, there are so many benefits that could come about as a result.
If you can maximize those while minimizing the disadvantages your children will be well on their way to acquiring quality education. It is no longer an option to be passive about monitoring and controlling the use of social media.
Take the reins.
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