In recent discussions of nowadays’ education, a controversial issue has been whether social media is beneficial in the classroom or not. As most of us already know, social media is an inseparable part of today’s society. It has grown enormously in the last years that it is obvious it affected most of the population. It is a tool that connects people all around the world in many ways. Not only can they keep in touch with their family and friends via social networks, but they also keep track of current events in the world as they can read the news, etc. It has brought a lot of advantages and disadvantages for the whole society. And these are closely connected with teaching. Then, the main issue is that many of the people, especially teenagers, are addicted to it and cannot even imagine living their lives without it. It is such a trend to have a phone or at least a laptop where they can surf the internet and “be online”. Several different applications just need internet access, such as very popular Instagram or Facebook and Twitter, for instance. These are the most used ones during the last years. For this reason, many teachers have already encountered the fact that his pupils were not paying attention to the lesson because of these applications. In other words, students were not present because they were busy chatting with their friends or watching new posts on Instagram. However, although these applications bring negatives into teaching, they are also useful in some situations. Therefore, this paper examines in which ways social media is beneficial and non-beneficial in education. So whats positive and negative effects of social media?
To start with the positive side first, many studies and articles are focusing on how social media positively change the educational landscape and what their advantages in education are. According to Rebeka TŐRŐK-ÁGOSTON, an author of one of these studies, last but not least advantage is that “With social media teaching has become more interactive, more interesting. Using social media in the classroom is like teachers teaching the same lesson on different levels. They use platforms in order to get closer to children’s world. In the classroom it is used mostly for projects, home-work, online courses” (TŐRŐK-ÁGOSTON 9). From this perspective, social media is a very useful tool and effective way to make the class much more interesting and different from the daily style of teaching; what is more, it increases students’ engagement. Many students get bored at school and therefore do not pay attention, so these tools might be used to engage them and catch their attention. Also, by involving these resources in the classroom, pupils develop more and remember some things better because more senses are involved. Moreover, nowadays, in the world full of modern technologies, it is quite common for teachers (and pupils) to use these tools daily during class. I dare say all of us are dependent on them. Teachers and pupils use social media for many purposes and different types of activities. They use it, for example, for studying, reading books, creating relationships, discovering places, online data, writing or reading blogs, or creating accounts. It allows them to co-operate online, which can be very helpful for improving communication not only between teachers and students but also among students. What is more, it can make things easier for those who missed or misunderstood something during the class as they can ask for help and talk to each other about upcoming assignments or tests. “They can get details from their schoolmates about materials that will be covered on a test or the requirements for assignments. If students are having difficulties with a certain topic, they ask for help from classmates via social networks and catch up online” (Faizi, Afia and Ensias 3). Next, using apps like Google for Education, for instance, enables students to have access to helpful learning sources regardless of time and place. We can generally use social media anytime and anywhere if we have internet access. This can be useful, for example, when we go to school by train or bus; our journey will pass faster, and we will spend the time meaningfully. Therefore, social media’s big advantage is its flexibility as it provides access to a wide range of opportunities enhancing teaching and learning.
On the contrary, it could be argued that these potential advantages can also be considered major disadvantages. It should be emphasized that there are different types of social media, and therefore not all of them are beneficial in teaching. It is important to realize that when students are using social media during the lesson, it, to some extent, harms their attention because it is a distraction. TŐRŐK-ÁGOSTON says, “Therefore, there are many disadvantages of social media, the most important being the fact that it is distracting students’ attention and wasting their time, promoting the minimal essence of information” (TŐRŐK-ÁGOSTON 9). This follows up on what was previously said in the beginning. Using social media in the class by the pupils is, of course, good. However, only as longs as it is used for purposes concerning learning. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Students very often do not pay attention because they are concentrating on different activities including their phone, which leads to a waste of time as they miss information and instructions the teacher gives them. As a result, it may even lead to a degradation of students’ marks. Conversely, Faizi, Afia and Ensias think that:
Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, for instance, can serve as backchannels for communication among students and between teachers and students within or between classes. Instructors can answer students’ questions via a Facebook page or Twitter feed, post homework assignments and lesson plans, extend in-class discussions, send messages and updates, schedule or announce forthcoming events, and inform learners about special lectures, panel discussions or guest speakers. This teacher-student interaction will certainly contribute in understanding various learning related difficulties and solving them in less time. (Faizi, Afia and Ensias 3)
Although some might agree, I would reply that it is not very appropriate for pupils to communicate with teachers via social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. If they have problems, they can address the teacher directly in the class (or after), or write an email. Though I concede it is much easier for both teachers and students to share assignments, information about upcoming events, or the changes in the schedule, etc. online, I still maintain that the better alternative would be using Google apps or e-mail rather than Facebook and Twitter. Besides, there should be some distance between teachers and pupils, and communication should have a certain level. In my opinion, using these social networks is more appropriate for communication among friends, family, and classmates, but not teachers and students. Even though it might seem interesting to someone to have a “discussion” with students via social networks, to me, it seems inappropriate and, in some cases dangerous, because it disrupts the teacher’s privacy. This is linked to another issue, and that is that social media is not safe because it influences young people’s lives and relationships among classmates, and teachers as well. If the user does not know how to use it properly, or worse, he knows but uses it for malicious purposes, it can turn out to be very dangerous. There are many cases of students bullying classmates, or the teachers likewise, through social accounts. Consequently, this creates an unfriendly environment in the classroom and moreover, it leads to serious problems which, in some cases, can even have fatal consequences.
In conclusion, according to all of what stated above, it is clear that social media have both positive and negative impacts on teaching. Nevertheless, it depends on the context and situations in which it is used and mainly HOW it is used. It may be a very useful and helpful tool that improves teaching or, on the contrary, it may be rather a negative influence and become a means serving for bad purposes.
- Rdouan Faizi, Abdellatif El Afia, Raddouane Chiheb. “Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education.” International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy (iJEP), vol. 3, no. 4, 11 October 2013, pp. 50-53,
- www.dx.doi.org/10.3991/ijep.v3i4.2836. Accessed on October 28, 2019.
- TŐRŐK-ÁGOSTON, Rebeka. “Education and Social Media.” Journal of Social Media, vol. 10, no. 2(28), 3 July 2017, pp. 166-183, 18p,
- www.10.24193/jmr.28.12. Accessed on October 28, 2019.