How is Social Media Affecting College Students?

Table of Contents


Social network sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, are presently being used frequently by millions of people around the world. The use of social network websites has been extensive that they have not just attracted the interest of industry and academic researchers all over the world, but also users and non users in general.

Currently, social network sites are being studied by several academic analysts and social science researchers. Several studies have greatly concentrated on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other social network sites since they are believed to have a significant impact on academic performance and quality of life.

Kirschner and Karpinski (1237) stated that more experimental reports about the negative impact of trying to process concurrently various streams of information demonstrated that such practice brings about increased study time to attain learning uniformity. It also causes more mistakes and errors while processing learning information than students or learners who are successively processing such similar information.

A change in contemporary youths, or digital natives, has caused various debates relating to their capacity of processing concurrently different means of information. Some studies stated that in modern society, children can multitask and reported that Facebook users demonstrated having lower GPAs, and use minimal hours per week to study than nonusers.

Research also involved Facebook users who often combine Facebook activities with other academic activities and analyzed the effects of Facebook on other academic practices. Daily news provide information about several children who are very disrespectful to their parents, adults, teachers, and other senior people since they have become spoiled, love luxury, develop disrespect for authority, and even adopted unpleasant behaviors.

Kirschner and Karpinski (1239) stated that academic book sellers, daily newspapers, journals, and articles cannot help, but make the people believe that modern generation of kids is drastically different from its antecedents. The authors claimed that most analysts assert that contemporary children can also perform effectively and efficiently different tasks at the same time without underperforming in the present work.

The studies have tried to find out if the statement above is accurate and if the modern children are Homo Zappiens. Some studies have attempted to find if adolescents, children, and upcoming adults would actually do effectively and efficiently different task simultaneously. This paper discuses the effects of Facebook, or social media, on college students’ academic performance and if social media have any impact on modern generation.

Multitasking and Academic Performance

The supposition is that modern generation has attained certain new multitasking strategies that are capable of using in a learning environment, and that schooling is annoying these children in the usage of such multitasking strategies. Unluckily, most critical studies report that the above assumption is not accurate, and showed that children do not have such multitasking strategies and that learning in this manner will negativity impact the processing of learning information.

Wim Veen suggested the expression Homo Zappiens to describe the modern generation of students who, different from their antecedent, study in a significantly different manner (Fairlie 665). Some studies provided that contemporary children or learners generate (with absence of instruction and independently) the meta-cognitive knowledge and experiences required for enquiry-based learning, practical study, analytical study, self-directive, collaborative study, and generate their own understanding.

Additionally, the research reported that the modern generation of children and emerging adults has a greater and improved association with contemporary technology that is often generated at birth (Fairlie 665).

Contemporary adults and children, as a result of their association with modern technology from birth, have an inborn technological capability that may be described as multitasking. Most studies refer this multitasking process as parallel processing functions that most modern generation have implemented in their learning processes.

Yang and Tang (102) also specified that even young kids are developing multitasking skills through technological awareness that allows such generation to steer new spatial settings, and identify and control visual images. Generally, incidents with this modern and advanced technology can enable young kids to have a familiarity with the way texts, images, and sounds interrelate that can be fundamental to initial educational achievement and general growth in this digital environment.

University or college students do not possess deep knowledge on modern technology, but they are limited to some basic and essential office suit knowledge, such as emailing, messaging, Facebook application, twitter application, surfing the internet, and other basic computer skills. In a learning setting, functionality is often inadequate to mainly passive utilization of information, for example Wikipedia, and for downloading learning materials.

College students have a great access and usage of electronic devices and because they are called digital natives do not create such students brilliant users of these advance technologies that they possess (Yang and Tang 105). However, they have the capacity of playing with the media, but they do not use it resourcefully.

Kirschner and Karpinski (1238) defined multitasking as a concurrent execution of two or more tasks all at once. Since people observe young people do this, some people have provided an assumption that they are really multitasking and are able to execute this without any failure of success or competence. This often brings about the statement that this varies from what preceding generations could execute, and there has been a precise transition of their brains to enable this process of multitasking.

Rouis, Limayem and Salehi-Sangari (966) stated that what people are actually proposing is that the modern generation has, through experience, generated the capability to change rapidly between one task to another or from one media to another. Unluckily, this does not signify that it is advantageous or constructive for current generation to carry out this or study in this manner.

Emphasizing mainly on reaction time, the outcomes showed that when reading or writing messages while driving, reaction time reduced significantly in both young people and older generation (Rouis, Limayem and Salehi-Sangari 966). In general, the impairments related with using mobile phones while driving may be as deep as people connected with driving while under the influence of alcohol.

In addition, it was reported that interrupted work is executed rapidly, but at a cost. College students or social media users under the interrupted situations underwent a greater workload, more time strain, additional effort, and greater disappointment.

This was supported by Kabre and brown (144) by asserting that social networks, such as MySpace and Facebook, in this advance technology in schools and homes have been certainly among the essential technology applications used to connect with other users and share important information.

College students have an appealing need to get in touch with their colleagues due to the advancement of these available technologies. Therefore, the application of Facebook and other social networks may turn into a practice that has an impact on the academic achievement and lifestyle of college students.

Social Network Sites, Facebook, and Academic Performance

Kirschner and Karpinski (1242) stated that socializing through social media sites or internet has developed into an increasingly essential element of the lives of emerging adults or modern generation. Proportionate to the general population, the biggest percentage of the population that uses computers and social media are teenagers and youths. They are mainly using it to carry out school tasks (46%), playing computer games (38%), and 36% of students is using computers for instant messages and emails (Kirschner and Karpinski 1242).

The reputation of Facebook brings about issues concerning the effects of social network websites on the college student performance and life in general. However, regardless of this advancement in older age brackets, social networking stays mainly to be an emerging adult and current teenage practice.

Social networking is recognized time-consuming practice that certainly has various effects on college students’ performance and life in general. Parents and academic instructors must promote the educational application of technology to enhance academic success.

Purposely, when the value of technology application is not strongly examined or ensured, computer application can do more damage to college learners’ success. Additionally, technology that was reported to have a constructive effect on educational success, or technology with academic standard, was not admired and applied less regularly.

Ahmed and Qazi (5024) reported that around 10 to 15% of research subjects stated that they feel not being in total control of their technology application, and that it has harmed their academic performance in colleges. College students who reported that internet brought about learning difficulties were reported to have spent five times more hours than students not using internet.

They were considerably more probably to portray that internet application drive them to stay for a longer time before sleeping, ignore classes, and get limited sleep. Some studies reported that deep social networking (more time used on social network sites) is seen among college learners with lower GPAs, and this shows that social networking has affected more students (Ahmed and Qazi 5024).

Akindehin (70) reported that experiences in, and knowledge about, social network sites are elements that are affected by degree of learning and gender of college students. To create a conducive and instructional reading areas that are applicable to real world of students, institutional instructors are required initiate support to students so that they can establish a positive a productive relationship with online social network habits since it is suitably employed to balance reading area practices.

In contrast, a research by Ahmed and Qazi (5024) reported that college students are concentrating more on these online social networks instead of spending their time on learning activities, and this certainly has an impact on academic performance.

The research also stated that the activities of students are related with academic performance or grade-related variations, and social networking is negatively associated with college GPAs of students using social networking frequently. Collegiate grade point averages (CGPAs) range is 3.0-3.5 for Facebook users, but higher for Facebook nonusers that range from 3.5-4.0 (Ahmed and Qazi 5024).

Comparison between Social Network Users and Nonusers

Different studies have addressed three major goals. First they have assessed whether there are differences between educational performance of Facebook users and nonusers in colleges. The second goal of research has been to investigate the perception of students on social network sites and if these websites affect their academic performances.

On the issue of academic performance in college students, studies reported three main groups of results (Ophus and Abbitt 646). First, there was difference between Facebook users and nonusers with Facebook users performing poorly in class work and even use more hours every week to access social network sites. Facebook nonusers, although the length of time they access internet was not different from the Facebook users, spend more time studying than Facebook users.

The research by Kirschner and Karpinsk (1243) also reported that most Facebook users stated that usage of internet did not affect their college performance. They stated that using Facebook frequently does not actually affect their academic performance. The research also highlighted that academics were their main concern, and students take enough time to study.

For Facebook users reporting that social networking has an impact on academic performance, the majority showed destructive effects relating with procrastination behaviors that they practice. Students stated that they have unpleasant time-management strategies and that Facebook application enables them to suspend learning activities since Facebook does not provide them with the sense that they are not participating in learning activities.

This was also supported by the findings that Facebook was useful to their study since majority of students stated that Facebook serves as a networking application for educational functions (Ophus and Abbitt 647). Most students argued that the control of Facebook use depends mainly on personalities, and academic performance is not mainly affected by social networking.

Another major finding is that the figures reported a major negative connection between academic performance and Facebook use (Kirschner and Karpinski 1239). Facebook nonusers reported higher mean GPA and more hours every week studying on average than Facebook users, and these findings supported the fact that Facebook use affects academic performance. The negative relationship between academic performance and social networking might be a sign of harmful impact of attempting to adopt the two processes simultaneously (multitasking).

Even though this was not evaluated directly by (Kirschner and Karpinski 1239), the literature provided in their research proposed that attempting to adopt two cognitive processes at the same time may have a destructive influence on both the efficiency and efficacy of performing the tasks. Possibly, any work that is implemented simultaneously with learning activities can have this similar impact, although some tasks in classes need the combination of work.

The study by Kirschner and Karpinsk (1245) does not implicate Facebook as the source of any vice, or that if a college learner uses Facebook, his academic performance may experience some unpleasant change. Ophus and Abbitt (646) stated clearly that Facebook and other social networking sites were not intended for instructional functions, although they often offer some equal purposes.

Therefore, it can be essential to apply studying management systems or other learning devices to create availability of course content and other learning activities. They should eliminate social networks since they do not provide learning content and necessary activities for studying.

Moreover, Ophus and Abbitt (646) asserted that not all web 2.0 applications or Internet applications are mutually likable to all learning and teaching strategies. Giving several paths to course participation can help students whose central studying strategies are not supported by social network sites.

Personalities and Social Network Sites

Some research findings put forwards some concerns, particularly that specific personalities are more likely to use social network sites or do not prefer these websites (Yang and Tang 102). For example, it seems that social network users are greatly engaged in secondary activities and propose more social extraversion.

Therefore, it seems right that students use social network sites to sustain or extend their social capital, and these websites help organize details of extracurricular activities. Moreover, more Facebook nonusers reveal that they use more hours per day in paid jobs and this proposes that nonusers are possibly very active with their professional and academic activities to carry on and participate in internet social life, or that internet social commitment is not a main concern.

During the research, Kirschner and Karpinsk (1245) noted that both Facebook users and nonusers provided a similar day by day internet application. This showed that Facebook use cannot actually increase time used in online or internet application and perhaps to the harm of existing study time. As access and accessibility to inexpensive technology increases in colleges, students’ skills and comfort level in application of advanced technology also increases.

It is expected that the use of Facebook, Internet applications and social network applications will go up as well. Although overall Internet time usage is comparable, social network users dedicated minimal time and remain after classes to study than Facebook nonusers. The research also revealed that Facebook users spend more time per day on social extracurricular activities, but they spend fewer hours per day on paid work.

Concerning the qualitative results provided in the research, it is exiting to point out that most college students stated that using Facebook does not influence their academic performance. Kirschner and Karpinsk (1245) found out that this finding is contrary to the MANOVA findings, which proposed a connection between social networking and academic performance.

Even though positive and negative effects were mentioned, most students avoided to report the likelihood of Facebook negativity affecting their academic performance. The research noted that the findings from general research and findings from MANOVA are comparable since both findings reported that social networking, particularly Facebook use, drives students to dedicate minimal hours or obtain lower grades in college.

The first major issue relating to academic performance presented in the research is the issue of multitasking. Kirschner and Karpinski stated that “many have assumed one or both of the following: (1) They actually are multitasking, and/or (2) they are capable of doing this without any loss of efficiency or effectiveness. This belief is often larded with statements that this is different from what previous generations could do, and there has been a specific evolution of their brains to allow this” (1238).

They explained that it may be challenging to multitask, but human beings have the capacity of switching rapidly from one job to another or working on two or more tasks at the same time. This has been evidently showed by the behaviors that contemporary or current generation performs as they combine studies at college and online activities, particularly social networking. Most students can email, send instant messages, surf internet, and other online activities while doing academic or school assignments.

Rouis, Limayem and Salehi-Sangari (962) said that “multitasking skills moderate the effect of cognitive absorption on academic achievement, but they do not impede the time spent, frequency, or nature of use or their effect on academic results.” Although satisfaction of college students with life reduces greatly because of cognitive engagement with Facebook application, it does not contribute any role in academic performance of college students.

Nevertheless, academic achievement goal orientation is a critical determinant on college achievements that would restrict the significant impact of their existence on the Facebook podium. This study reported that Facebook usage does not affect the college performance and there are other major elements that contribute to negative effects on academic achievements. As an essential element of studying, interpersonal relationship can promote the transfer of important skills and information, or can improve studying motivations. This function might not be simply substituted by just computer technology.

Academic Performance and Social Networking Sites

As said by Kirschner and Karpinski (1243), “Facebook users and nonusers were significantly different from each other with FB users reporting both a lower mean GPA and spending fewer hours per week studying on average than FB nonusers, though the amount of total time spent on the Internet did not differ between the groups.” Evidently, there is a variation between the learning skills of Facebook users and nonusers.

The second major finding is that major differences were reported between graduate and undergraduate students. Undergraduate students provided a lower mean GPA than graduate students, which shows that undergraduate students use social network sites than graduates.

The third findings showed that the relationship existing among hours spent on studies, Facebook use and GPA performance is constant irrespective of student status, or the major. Here, the status means graduate and undergraduate students, and major means whether the student taking sciences, humanities, or other courses such as engineering, nursing, or business.

However, a study by Young (120) reported that Internet use and social networking among young people are greatly associated to their academic achievements. The study also reported that entertainment-oriented usage and internet use are harmfully associated to academic performance, while social network factors (for example ego-network efficiency and in-degree centrality) contribute major and positive impact on academic performance. This shows that lower ego-network efficiency and in-degree centrality are associated with the lower college performances that students are probably to obtain (Young 120).

Social support and exchange of important information with other users through social networking or internet application can improve college students’ academic achievement and satisfaction (Yang and Tang 102).

Yang and Tang (102) reported that online or internet discussions are naturally more social and that interactive exchange of messages appear to be amusing, possess several first-person plural pronouns, portray a greater inclination for agreement, and possess more self-revelation. This shows that interpersonal interaction contributes a major role in online learning or college education in general.

In contrast, Fortune, Spielman and Pangelinan (7) reported that frequent interruptions by technology or social networks obstruct the concentration of learning, and divert college students from the key academic objectives that are to achieve knowledge and graduate.

Another potential impact has been on college student levels and students who dedicate more time on social network sites are expected to lower their GPA or college grades. On the other hand, online learning has not just enhanced students’ typing speed, but also supported student’s reading, Internet skills, oral communication, and vocabulary. Students using social network sites often communicate effectively with college instructors than if they were in class because of the number of students in class.

Social network practices enable college students to recognize their users with whom they contact openly leading to associations with other social network users that would not otherwise be created and with whom college students are interested with. These allow them to share offline interests and provide multiple opportunities to share classroom and other necessary information.

College instructors should introduce and promote the use of social network or Internet use since students can look for information or materials necessary for the assignments or learning tasks. This often allows college students to be prepared to seek independently and suitably use information. Additionally, through the support provided by college instructors, students can actively participate in learning or classroom activities, ask questions, concentrate on learning activities, become a lifetime learner, and take studies seriously (Fairlie 665).


Academic performance has been affected by several activities and practices that may have a negative or positive impact on college students. Social network sites, such as Facebook, and MySpace, are among the major practices that affect academic performance and achievement. Some studies have associated social network sites with poor performance in schools and poor learning practices since most social network users spend more time per week on Facebook.

Therefore, Facebook users reduce the time used for learning to operate Facebook activities. Kirschner and Karpinsk (1245) noted that if Facebook did not exist, college students could use their time participating in other activities that have a negative impact on academic performance. Ophus and Abbitt (646) asserted that not all web 2.0 applications are mutually likable to all learning and teaching strategies. Giving several paths to course participation can help students whose central learning strategies are not supported by Facebook or other social network sites.

Works Cited

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Kirschner, Paul and Aryn Karpinski. “Facebook and Academic Performance.” Computers in Human Behavior 26 (2010): 1237–1245. Print.

Ophus, John and Jason Abbitt. “Exploring the Potential Perceptions of Social Networking Systems in University Courses.” Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 5.4 (2009): 639-648. Print.

Rouis, San, Moez Limayem and Esmail Salehi-Sangari. “Impact of Facebook Usage on Students’ Academic Achievement: Roles of Self-Regulation and Trust.” Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology 9.3 (2011): 961-994. Print.

Yang, Heng-Li and Jih-Hsin Tang. “Effects of Social Network on Students’ Performance: A Web-Based Forum Study in Taiwan.” JALN 7.3 (2003): 93-107. Print.

Young, Bae. “A Study on the Effect of Internet Use and Social Capital on the Academic Performance.” Journal of Development and Society 35.1 (2006): 107-123. Print.

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