‘If you are on social media and you are not learning, not being inspired, not networking, then, you are using it wrong.’ This is a quote by an expert in social media etiquette, Germany Kent. However, while some people would agree with this statement, others are likely to refuse. It is undeniable that social media sites such as Facebook have become integral parts of the current society and have affected all sectors, including education. In an era when social media has become widely used, it is bound that these platforms have a direct impact on academics. One of the most used social media sites in the world is Facebook, which allows people to interact online by posting messages and pictures. Many young people have become hooked on this social media site, which has been associated with numerous impacts, both positive and negative. Irrespective of some previous studies being indecisive about the actual relationship between Facebook and academic performance, they have presented abundant information regarding the effect that the platform has on the learners’ academic achievements. However, some researchers have indicated that Facebook cannot bring any positive impacts on academics sine it has been associated with psychological problems that affect the student’s concentration and makes the students fail (O’Reilly 603). As such, they perceive that social media sites like Facebook should be limited in use in school grounds to ensure that students remain focused on their studies. While some researchers in the education sector have built this perception, others feel that Facebook has brought a lot of positive impacts on students’ academics. The perceived benefits that Facebook has on academics are that it allows students to feel part of the school community, provide other channels of information other than teachers, and enhance virtual educational discussions that are convenient to learners.
A key positive effect that Facebook has brought on students’ academics is that it has enabled their virtual educational discussions that are convenient. Many schools and institutions of higher learning often enforce students to work in groups to ensure that they share knowledge and help each other. As such, Facebook allows students to create groups where they can engage without the need for meeting physically. This has promoted networking among learners who have seen these virtual groups as more convenient and easier channels where they can engage with their fellow classmates. At the same time, even when the group is not active, members can post a question and others can comment with their responses from which they can engage in conversations with the respondents to establish the most suitable solutions to their academic problem. Besides, these groups have been influential in enhancing language learning. as posited by Ping and Miniam (32), “Learners can also increase their fluency through writing their comment, because group discussion allows learners the option to discuss one topic step-by-step, so that their language and knowledge of the topic improves accordingly.” As such, the effectiveness of Facebook in promoting knowledge sharing among students cannot be underestimated. At the same time, public and private libraries ensure that members can share information about reading materials, which is helpful to others. As such, Facebook has been perceived to be a global library that has helped people to get recommendations that have helped them in their education. This issue has been noted by Das and Mahapatra (96) who narrate that “…public libraries are using its wall and upload photos as the preferred way to share information than academic libraries. however, it also found that both types of libraries use Facebook for passing information to users, rather than use as a discussion forum.’ Such issues have all contributed towards enhancing the academic performances of students since they have been saved from visiting the libraries physically.
Moreover, Facebook creates a positive impact on academics by ensuring that students can learn from an array of sources other than depending only on their teachers. On the one hand, students have stopped waiting for instructions only from their teachers since Facebook offers a platform where these learners can engage with other professionals in different areas. For instance, many scientists on Facebook can greatly offer more expertized help to students, which goes a long way in enhancing their academic performance. Akram and Kumar (350) note that “The long range interpersonal communication advances are worked in such a way, to the point that understudies will have the capacity to pick the gathering, movement or the individual they would need to take after for every day refreshes.’ This means that students have been allowed to ensure that they converse with any professional that they identify as being helpful to them in their studies. Such interactions even become essential since these professionals become mentors to the students, which is a source of motivation to the learners. On the other hand, it has been reported that rather than blocking students from using Facebook in school, learning institutions should provide proper arrangements that facilitate the training of learners. This has been suggested by Negussie and Girum (35) who claim that ‘Therefore, it is highly recommendable that higher education institutes like Universities, Colleges should foster students to use Facebook for educational purpose by providing proper arrangements and training rather blocking the sites.’ Such opportunities will be important in making sure that students learn how to use Facebook for the right reasons, such as conducting research. In the current society, it has become easy to use social media when researching about issues ranging from history to science since many people who are Facebook have relevant knowledge that can greatly be beneficiary to the students.
Another positive impact of Facebook on academics is that it has allowed individuals to feel like part of the school community. Student engagement with their instructors and faculty members is an effective way of ensuring that they are part of the school community. Teachers who go the extra mile of ensuring that they engage with their students beyond the classroom make a significant impact on these students’ academics. As noted by Clements (132), “Facebook can act as a rapid avenue of communication between educators and students, with students often receiving instructor and classmate messages through Facebook far quicker than through other online communication platforms.” This direct messaging between students and teachers has been a significant method that has ensured that education does not stop once the teacher leaves the classroom. At the same time, the engagement ensures that there is the cultivation of an environment that makes the students feel like part of the school community, which has a direct impact on their studies. Furthermore, research by Forkosh-Baruch et al. (274), “Teachers, as well as educational systems at large, can benefit from these changes by facilitating contemporary educational paradigms, allowing teachers to “[engage] in an authentic relationship with students where teachers know and respond with intelligence and compassion to students and their learning.’ This means that irrespective of the distance between the teacher and student, they continue to engage in education issues through social media sites such as Facebook. As such, this aspect has challenged the traditional perspective whereby teachers and students could only engage while in the classroom which created an accumulation of students’ communication with the teachers hence, derailing the delivery of timely responses from their teachers. Additionally, Al-Dheleai and Zaidatun (171) argue that “Facebook can facilitate and enable the instructors to achieve their online roles of instructional design and organization, facilitating students’ discourse and providing direct instructions.’ It becomes easy for teachers to offer instructions about assignments and other related works that they give students, which allows the learners to be enlightened. This positive relationship between the teachers and students is what helps the learners to acknowledge the fact that they are appreciated and that instructors are concerned about them beyond the classroom. As such, this creates a favorable environment such that students feel like part of the school community. The feeling of being an appreciated member of the school community ensures that the student even remains committed to his/her school work, which enhances his overall performance.
Despite the arguments presented on the positive impacts that Facebook has on students’ academics, the opposing side deems that it has only brought negative effects. For instance, Facebook has been blamed for causing psychological problems among students, which adversely affects their academic performance. Psychological problems often emerge as a result of a student becoming addicted to Facebook and spend most of their times on this platform. Addiction to Facebook has been associated with a poor concentration in the classroom, which leads to trailing academic performance. As reported by Arad et al. (3), “In the case of Facebook, the design of the news feed creates an overwhelming emphasis on the positive experiences of others which may give rise to envy, rumination and jealousy as well as depression, anxiety, and stress.’ When students are exposed to such mental problems, it becomes impossible for them to perform excellently in their academics. Instead, they spend a lot of time trying to overcome the mental problems that they fail in their academics. Furthermore, this argument is supported by another recent research by Guo (12) who necessitates that ‘Facebook use would give rise to loneliness and decrease the satisfaction with life and feeling of happiness.” When students experience such issues, they are affected psychologically, which affects their performance in the classroom. In refutation to these claims, it can be identified that Facebook has brought positive impacts on students’ performance since they can access current and emerging trends. The latter has been emphasized by Kaya and Huseyin (378), “As mobile device (smartphone, tablets, wearable etc.) ownership increases, it is becoming easier for people to share information via social net-works, and this may affect their popularity online. Moreover, students are following news and get opinions about current trends.’ Therefore, some of the current trends, especially about the economy, have been essential in ensuring that students do not lag in these issues. At the same time, students can easily access the current education plans that are being introduced, which ensures that they are at par with what is going on in society.
In conclusion, the discussion has indicated that Facebook has a positive impact on academic performance. The anticipated benefits that Facebook has on academics include the fact that it allows students to feel part of the school community, enhances virtual educational discussions that are convenient to learners, and provide other channels of information other than teachers. The engagement between teachers and students on Facebook serves to showcase that these learners are valued in the school community. At the same time, students have organized online groups on Facebook where they can engage in conversations about their studies, which is a significant step towards ensuring that education is enhanced. Similarly, Facebook has allowed students to engage with professionals in various fields other than relying on their teachers for all information. However, opponents of Facebook use in enhancing education have argued that this social media platform brings psychological problems which hamper their activeness in the classroom and lead to their failure in education. Therefore, it is essential that teachers and students capitalize on the positive aspects of Facebook while remaining careful about the negative impacts that it can bring on education.
- Akram, Waseem, and Kumar Reem. ‘A Study on Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media on Society.’ International Journal of Computer Sciences and Engineering. 2017, 347 354.
- Al-Dheleai, Yahya M., and Zaidatun Tasir. ‘Using Facebook for the Purpose of Students’ Interaction and Its Correlation with Students’ Academic Performance.’ Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology-TOJET 16.4 (2017): 170-178.
- Arad, Ayala et al. ‘The Impact of Facebook on Social Comparison and Happiness: Evidence from a Natural Experiment.’ Available at SSRN 2916158 (2017).
- Clements, Jeff C. “Using Facebook to Enhance Independent Student Engagement: A Case Study of First-Year Undergraduates.” Higher Education Studies, vol. 5, no. 4, Jan. 2015, pp. 131–146. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1075114&site=eds-live&scope=site.
- Das, Kshirod, and R. K. Mahapatra. “Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing via Facebook Groups: Analysis of Postings of Library and Information Science Community.” DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, vol. 38, no. 2, Mar. 2018, pp. 95–101. EBSCOhost, doi:10.14429/djlit.38.2.10949.
- Forkosh-Baruch, Alona, et al. “Teacher-Student Relationship and SNS-Mediated Communication: Perceptions of Both Role-Players.” Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Skills and Lifelong Learning, vol. 11, Jan. 2015, pp. 273–289. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1104070&site=eds-live&scope=site.
- Guo, Huishan. “Linking Loneliness and Use of Social Media.’ The University of Helsinki. Pp. 1 75
- Kaya, Tugberk1, firstname.lastname@example.org. t., and Huseyin2 Bicen. “The Effects of Social Media on Students’ Behaviors; Facebook as a Case Study.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 59, June 2016, pp. 374–379. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.02.036.
- O’Reilly, Michelle, et al. “Is Social Media Bad for Mental Health and Wellbeing? Exploring the Perspectives of Adolescents.” Clinical Child Psychology And Psychiatry, vol. 23, no. 4, Oct. 2018, pp. 601–613. EBSCOhost, doi: 10.1177/1359104518775154.
- Ping, Ng Sau, and Mahendran Maniam. “The Effectiveness of Facebook Group Discussions on Writing Performance: A Study in Matriculation College.” International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education, vol. 4, no. 1, Mar. 2015, pp. 30–37. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1091701&site=eds-live&scope=site.