How do social networks influence educational processes?

Social networks are platforms that allow people to communicate, share, and exchange information online. They have become an integral part of our lives, especially for the younger generations who use them for various purposes, such as entertainment, socialization, learning, and collaboration.

But how do social networks influence education? Do they have positive or negative effects on the way students and teachers interact, access information, and learn? In this blog post, we will explore some of the main aspects of how social networks are reshaping today’s education system.

Empowering Effects

One of the most evident effects of social networks is that they empower students, teachers, and parents to use new ways of sharing information and building a community. According to a survey, 96% of the students who have internet access use at least one social network (Center for Social Impact Communication 2018). Moreover, many of them use social networks to promote positive and useful activities, such as finding internships, collaborating on projects, or sharing success stories (Center for Social Impact Communication 2018).

Social networks also enable teachers to reach out to their students in a more engaging and personalized way. They can use social media to create online learning environments, share resources, provide feedback, and foster discussions. For example, Moodle and Blackboard are learning management systems that incorporate social media features to enhance online learning (Frank et al. 2018). Teachers can also use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to communicate with their students, post announcements, or create events (Center for Social Impact Communication 2018).

Furthermore, social networks facilitate the communication and collaboration among parents, teachers, and school administrators. They can use social media to stay informed about school activities, events, or policies. They can also use social media to exchange opinions, suggestions, or concerns about their children’s education. For instance, some schools have created Facebook groups or pages where parents and teachers can interact and support each other (Center for Social Impact Communication 2018).

Challenging Effects

However, social networks also pose some challenges and risks for education. One of the main concerns is that social networks can distract students from their academic tasks and reduce their attention span. Some studies have found that excessive use of social media can negatively affect students’ academic performance, motivation, and self-regulation (Kirschner and Karpinski 2010; Junco 2012). Moreover, some schools have banned or restricted the use of social media in classrooms due to the potential disruption or misuse of these platforms (Center for Social Impact Communication 2018).

Another issue is that social networks can expose students to inappropriate or harmful content, such as cyberbullying, hate speech, fake news, or pornography. These types of content can affect students’ mental health, self-esteem, or critical thinking skills. Therefore, it is important that students are educated about the ethical and responsible use of social media and that they are protected by adequate policies and regulations (Livingstone et al. 2014; O’Keeffe et al. 2011).

A third challenge is that social networks can create inequalities or gaps in educational opportunities. Not all students have equal access to the internet or social media platforms due to economic, geographic, or cultural factors. This can create a digital divide that affects students’ learning outcomes and participation. Moreover, not all teachers have the same skills or resources to integrate social media into their teaching practices. This can create a pedagogical divide that affects teachers’ professional development and innovation (Selwyn 2016; Moolenaar and Sleegers 2015).

Conclusion

In conclusion, social networks have a significant influence on educational processes. They offer new possibilities for communication, collaboration, and learning among students, teachers, and parents. However, they also present some challenges and risks that need to be addressed and managed. Therefore, it is essential that educators are aware of the potential benefits and drawbacks of using social media in education and that they adopt appropriate strategies and tools to enhance their teaching effectiveness and quality.

References

Center for Social Impact Communication (2018) How Social Media is Reshaping Today’s Education System. https://csic.georgetown.edu/magazine/social-media-reshaping-todays-education-system/. Accessed 5 Feb 2024

Frank K., Lo Y.-j., Torphy K., Kim J. (2018) Social Networks and Educational Opportunity. In: Buchmann C., McDaniel A., Smith J., Blossfeld H.-P. (eds) Handbook of the Sociology of Education in the 21st Century. Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research. Springer International Publishing AG

Junco R (2012) The relationship between frequency of Facebook use,
participation in Facebook activities,
and student engagement.
Computers & Education
58(1):162–171

Kirschner PA, Karpinski AC (2010) write my paper on Facebook® and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior 26(6):1237–1245

Livingstone S, Haddon L, Görzig A, Ólafsson K (2014) EU Kids Online: findings, methods, recommendations. EU Kids Online, London School of Economics & Political Science

Moolenaar NM, Sleegers PJC (2015) The networked principal: Examining principals’ social relationships and transformational leadership in school and district networks. Journal of Educational Administration 53(1):8–39

O’Keeffe GS, Clarke-Pearson K, Council on Communications and Media (2011) The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics 127(4):800–804

Selwyn N (2016) Education and technology: key issues and debates. Bloomsbury Academic

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