Communication through social websites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter has risen in popularity over the last decade, coining the term “social networking” in the process; defined by Webster as “the use of websites or other online technologies to communicate with people and share information, resources, etc.”
Making it possible to connect to people with similar interests across any political, economical or geographical border, their social benefits are immediately known. No longer does one have to be prisoner to circumstance, when it comes to meeting people it’s as easy as logging in to your account.
Some economists also point out its benefit to small business entrepreneurship. When exposure is crucial, being able to advertise through such giant sites becomes a great promotional tool. People looking to promote their business are now able to reach millions of viewers simply by creating their own profile.
However, with their increase in popularity, as well as their relatively easy attainability (most major sites are free of charge) the question beckons as to how much these sites effect students studying habits.
According to a June 2011 Pewter Research Center study, 65 percent of “wired” Americans, those who have an active connection to the internet, currently use some kind of social networking website; 61 percent of these users were under the age of 30.
The same study showed that 55 percent of all online youths, ages 12-17, use social networking sites at least once a week.
“I can only speak for myself, but since I’ve started using (Facebook) I have definitely noticed a change in what I do on the internet on average,” said Cody Schirmers, a junior at SCSU. “I think a lot of people may agree. Who doesn’t immediately check their Facebook after logging on, before doing anything else?”
Since its launching date in 2004, Facebook has become the largest social networking website in the world. It currently has over 700 million users.
“I would think all of this time spent on Facebook does in turn take away from studying. Those first 15 minutes spent checking my status, looking at other friends statuses and commenting on others photos probably could be spent reading over chapter notes or doing practice problems. But who really wants to do that,” Schirmers said.
Social networking has also found it’s way into the classrooms recently, with professors using the fact that they can stay connected with their students to their advantage. Sites such as Twitter have helped students to not only stay connected with their university, but the community as well. The University of Minnesota currently has around 12,000 followers, which helps students keep connected with events happening around campus. Universities have also used Twitter and Facebook to broadcast large events, as many other businesses have already put into practice.
Although it remains to be seen statistically how social networking usage affects students study habits, its onset affect appears clear in the minds of its users.
“I would say most everyone I know uses one site or another. Of course I have a friend or two who doesn’t use it, but most everyone does. And when everyone uses it, it almost gives you a ‘left out’ feeling if you’re not,” Schrimers said.