Not only does social media promote communication on a global scale, it has changed the very nature communication, having interesting effects on language.
Social media has become an undeniably influential force in our society. Social networking is a tool used by people all around the world to promote and aid communication. However, some argue that the growing dependency on social media has negatively impacted certain areas of our lives, specifically education.
The internet has allowed us to develop an entire new glossary of slang words. Twitter is one example of a social media site that imposes a 140 character limit, forcing users to condense our thoughts. For many, this results in excessive use of slang terms and abbreviations. Slang terms and text-speak such as IDK (I don’t know), LOL (laugh out loud), and BTW (by the way) have begun to mesh into every day language. With 80% of teen users frequenting social media sites, it is not surprising that our online communication habits have influenced our everyday lives.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Nicolas Nova
Teachers now blame social media sites for their students’ poor academic performance! According to a study by the JCA, an organization that specializes in social development, the majority of teachers have come to the conclusion that the students with the poorest grades were the ones most active in social media networking. “The way students communicate with one another through social media and text messaging is slowly creeping into the classroom. More and more students are using internet slang as a substitute to proper grammar” (click here for link to article).
Some argue that social media influences students attitude towards school as well. Studies have shown that the growing obsession with social media has become an unhealthy distraction, affecting students’ concentration inside and outside of the classroom. Studies suggest that an increasing amount of students fail to complete their homework on time and are handing in sub-par work.
On the contrary, some argue that social media is absolutely essential to education. Social media can be used as a space to communicate and exchange information with others. It gives people instant access to breaking news stories and current events with the simple click of a mouse. News organizations can develop widgets that can display top stories on the home pages of social network users. The Washington Post, for example, uses Facebook to tell first-hand stories. Journalists can also use social networks to find sources for news articles. In addition, social networking has greatly aided peer-to-peer collaboration. According to researcher Christine Greenhow, “When students feel connected and have a strong sense of belonging to the school community, they do better in school.” Social networking sites help students develop bonds with their classmates.
So here comes the question: Does social media distract students, preventing them from achieving academic growth; or does social media encourage collaboration, strengthening academic performance?
In my opinion, social media is a great way to instantly access and share information with others. When students connect on social media sites, they are able to easily collaborate, form online study groups and exchange other forms of information, increasing productivity. However, if we rely so heavily on the internet as a communication platform, our ability to write properly (without features like spell-check) diminishes. Internet slang has infiltrated our everyday vocabulary, effecting our ability to intelligently communicate with others. We must be careful not to let our online vocabulary replace our offline vocabulary. That being said, TTYL!
Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Circuito Fora do Eixo