Students: Social media blackout eye-opening, ‘annoying’


“Is this how we want to send the next generation out into the world, beholden to social networks,” said Madia, a panelist in one of the social media discussions at Harrisburg during the blackout week, adding that employers won’t tolerate the several hours a day students spend on Facebook. “We should wonder why are they doing this in the first place. … And it creates enormous pressure on people because they like telling stories and being popular and sharing information, and it’s very hard to give that up.”

Madia said the Twitter and Facebook ban should be an alert to students whose social media usage has become detrimental to their grades and their personal relationships–the face-to-face kind, not the instant message variety.

“For those who are connected all the time, it’s somewhat frightening. It’s a feeling of being alone that’s terrifying for some people,” she said.

A study released in December 2009 showed that the nearly-universal usage of social media sites on campus has not created a subset of college students whose grades have plummeted with numerous daily updates for their online friends.

Students in a University of New Hampshire marketing research course surveyed more than 1,100 fellow students about their use of popular social media web sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and they found “no correlation between the amount of time students spend using social media and their grades.”

The student researchers classified light users of social media as respondents who spent less than 31 minutes every day on social networking sites. Heavy users, according to the study, spent more than an hour daily on social media sites.

Sixty-three percent of heavy users earned high grades–A’s and B’s–while 65 percent of light users received high marks.

“The study indicates that social media is being integrated with, rather than interfering with, students’ academic lives,” said Chuck Martin, a university adjunct professor whose marketing class conducted the study. “College students have grown up with social networks, and the study shows they are now simply part of how students interact with each other, with no apparent impact on grades.”

The New Hampshire research contradicted an Ohio State study showing students who reported checking status updates, joining fan groups, and chatting with friends on Facebook several times a day had a GPA as much as a letter grade lower than their counterparts.

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