Facebook; a help or a hindrance?

18 Nov

Okay, so we all have facebook right? In fact, almost everyone on facebook are either students, teachers, people involved in education or people who want to learn (according to the online education programs guide). I would say the majority of us spend most of our time when doing our ‘uni work’ actually casually nosying in on our friends personal lives. During my A level exams and GCSE’s, I have been tempted to delete my social network sites numerous time. Hours of precious revision time, was unknowingly to my mum, spent browsing the same old boring newsfeed, where uneventful events happened to the same uneventful peoples lives. People who were also obviously also trying to avoid doing their work.

Since having a baby, facebook has become my connection to the real outside world. It’s the only connection to normal people I easily have, whilst being stuck indoors with a slobbery little elf man sicking all over me. While I have no time for socialising, reading newspapers or keeping up with my friends’ new boyfriends, in the rare few moments I do have free, facebook means I am not totally in the dark about what is happening in the world. It is surprising how much you can learn from a site that appears to be determined to ruin your grades. I mean I must have discovered that Amy Winehouse had died moments after it happened. Not that this is an important Psychological breakthrough, but it educated me all the same.. drink and drugs are bad!

Facebook can also be educational in a more traditional sense, all the helpful members on the undergrad psychology page have came to my need when things have just got too confusing for me. Posting a question you need answered takes a few seconds and is a lot easier than emailing a lecturer. I don’t know how I would have managed without it during my time at uni. So despite my mum telling me facebook is a waste of time, and it is going to make me fail, I still believe it’s a necessity in my life.

Understandably, not everyone shares the same views as me; a study by Kirschner and Karpinski (2010) discovered that Facebook users actually have lower Grade Point Averages than non-facebook users. They also spend fewer hours per week studying. Referring to my blog on causation and correlation, this information does not have to mean that facebook is bad! It might however be the people who are less likely to put as much effort into their work anyway, that use facebook. It doesn’t actually mean that the cause of these lower scores and less study time is facebook. It could merely be coincidence.

A different study used 909 undergraduate students from a UK university. It recorded their activity on facebook and concluded that facebook has its own place in education. It helps to manage the ‘role conflict’ that students find occurs between uni work, teaching staff and social lives (Neil Selwyn, 2009). This is true!! Facebook has its own niche and can be totally beneficial to a persons studies.

So what are everyone else’s views on facebook? Does it help or hinder our education?


Kirschner, P.A.,& Karpinski, A. C. (2010). Online Interactivity: Role of Technology in Behavior Change. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1237-1245. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.024

Selwyn, N. (2009). Faceworking: exploring students’ education-related use of Facebook. Learning and social software – researching the realities, 34(2), 157-174. doi: 10.1080/17439880902923622



8 Responses to “Facebook; a help or a hindrance?”

  1. racewinner November 23, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    Interestingly, Facebook actually originated as an education site for schools, colleges…. Where a valid ID with the institution was needed for people to be able to sign up. (Yadav, S., 2006) As such, I feel that Facebook actually helps our education. In fact, researchers actually use social outlets like Facebook and Twitter to conduct experiments. (Cooke, S.V.G., 2011) Moreover, although it has been said that a higher usage of Facebook will result in lower grades for most people, further research which analyzed the different studies that claimed such actually showed that the claim was false where Facebook usage was in fact more common amongst those who scored higher grades. (Thompson, B., 2009) Just by randomly search on Facebook, you can find many groups available for most to join in. These groups can be purely for interest sake where people get together to discuss their favorite topics or even for education sake such as seen from the Bangor Psychology Facebook Group where many students go with their queries and the various other students help them out. As such, this process actually saves a lot of time and helps the students to self-learn especially if they are too shy to approach the lecturer directly to ask their question or they feel that the question they are going to ask is too “stupid” to ask a lecturer, thus depending on peer review instead. In fact, I believe the only thing lacking on Facebook would be the wider usage of Facebook education groups by Primary and Secondary schools to allow them to learn through peer review, as such, the students in these educational environments may only think of Facebook as a social site to look at what their friends are up to whereas the greater potential Facebook has for educational processes are overlooked until they arrive in University. Therefore, I believe that Facebook definitely helps our education when we are older whereas it may hinder the education of the younger kids who do not have the maturity or opportunity to use Facebook groups for peer reviews.

    Cooke, S.V.G. (2011, November) Walls Have Eyes: How Researchers Are Studying You On Facebook, TimeBusiness. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2099409,00.html
    Thompson, B. (2009, May 5) Just how bad is Facebook for you? BBCNews. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8033466.stm
    Yadav, S. (2006, August 25) Facebook – The Complete Biography. Mashable Social Media. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2006/08/25/facebook-profile/

    Tracy Yang

    • ihmsl November 24, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

      Really great topic area for discussion! Facebook helpfull or hinderance? As with most things it all depends on how its being used of course. I was a huge sceptic of Facebook to begin with and saw it as a complete invasion of my personal and private life. However, since starting university I realised that I could either join the social network sensation or basically be left behind. So with great trepidation I signed up only to find that I am now a total convert who actually thinks it is absolutely fantastic. I think Jess, your situation in particular highlights how much of a benefit it can be to individuals who have more constraints on accessibility to social situations and ultimately information derived from discussion with others. Yes facebook can be a distraction if you let it but we are all grown ups and we have to set bounderies for ourselves in all areas of life and I think most people use it wisely. I find it a very useful tool as a sounding board for my frustrations, so for me it has actually become a bit of a release as im sure it it is for others

  2. zoe3112 November 24, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    I think you can get out of Facebook whatever you like. It’s not an invasion of privacy as you only put the information, photos etc you want on there, plus you have to accept friends before they can see your profile. As for education I think Facebook is great! It’s an informal way of students to ask questions to each other, questions which they may think are too stupid to ask lecturers. It’s free, quick and easy as whenever a question pops into your head; it can instantly go onto Facebook and answered before it’s forgotten! It’s really positive for students to be helping each other out and as we can all see each other’s questions, what one person asks probably many others needed the answer to the same question!

  3. ppp1003 November 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    Well this is a great topic, the privacy issues with facebook are major, yes you can deactivate your account whenever you wish, however upon deactivating your account it is still out there stored somewhere, you can not actually permanently delete your account forever and anything posted on the site will forever remain on your internet footprint, with regards to reasearch carried out via facebook it is worth watching the following clip

    Facebook can use our information for a lot more than we realise, and is this a very very clever way of gathering a vast amount of information from all age groups to produce statistics?
    With regards to facebookaffecting grades, the study carried out by Kapinski(2010) did suggest a correlation between facebook users and school grades, however it is worth considering the vast increase in technology with regards to this study, this is surely an extraneous variable, 10 years ago there was no facebook, moreover there was minimal school aged children accessing laptops and mobile phones etc, so it is worth considering whether facebook is the issue here or whether technological advancement on the whole is the issue?

    • ppp1003 November 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

      sorry for the ski wiff, comments but wordpress was being a pain and throughout my last comment I could not actually see what I was writing correctly as the flashing cursor kept dissapearing and flicking back and forth!

    • jessicabibby November 25, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

      That video is scary! I had no idea it was so easy to access so much information. Does this mean that even if facebook is on private profile, info can still be accessed? You have made a really good point about advances in technology. It could also be that the people who use facebook in this generation, would have been the people who were ‘playing out’ instead of doing their work before technology advanced. I dont think that facebook can be blamed for bad grades, it is down to the individual to work and achieve. Facebook is a distraction, but then so is everything!

  4. katstats November 25, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    In terms of the development of learning, at our age we are probably not affected by it as people younger than us, as we were learning before facebook therefore when facebook came in to action, it was more of a distraction for half hour and then we just got on with work.

    However, people alot younger who havn’t been learning before facebook arised, could maybe be more effected in terms of concentration to not do their work at all and concentrate on social nothings.

    On the other hand this could go the oppisite way and we could be more hindered in our work load because we are stuck on here distracting ourselves and they have known no different as facebook has always been there so has no effect.
    The study found by Kirschner and Karpinski (2010) is really interesting and I can imagine that if you were to ask the general public who has higher scores, people with or without an account they would probably predict the same outcome that Kirschner and Karpinski (2010) found.

    On the other hand like someone suggested, rather than hindering learning it can help, eg. our psychology undergraduate facebook page, it allows to connect with other people sharing the same interests that can help you if you come across a problem that you may have.

    I guess it all depends on how you veiw facebook, facebook is such a huge phemnoneon that it can be looked at from many different angles and I guess how an individual labels what facebook is to them, then thats how they percieve and use it, which leads to how useful it is and how it effects them day to day.

    • jessicabibby November 25, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

      But before facebook their was bebo, and before that some other distraction! I don’t think facebook can be blamed for affecting the concentration of younger people. If it wasn’t there to distract them, then something else would be. Its down to the individual and how committed they are to their work.

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