Social media distracting university students from their studies

Studying a university degree has always been something that requires time, dedication and focus. Although that hasn’t changed, the innovation of technology definitely has and lucky for us millennials, we now face these expected challenges, as well as the urge to check our social media feeds every five minutes. 

There is no way that something so addictive and accessible does not have an effect on our concentration levels, productivity and overall quality of education. 

This semester, I take it to the BCM212 cohort to find out how these platforms have impacted their uni degrees. 

Initially I wasn’t sure if I wanted to focus on a certain platform in particular so I asked this poll on twitter:

Then I read an article from Variety that said that TikTok “Kept more than 100 million users engaged in lockdown conditions.”. With this information and my poll results in mind, I asked this question:

However, after some research and thought, I have decided to look at the impacts of social media as a whole and perhaps just use TikTok as a specific example within my research. Regardless, these polls are still a helpful insight to start off with. 

According to existing research, students are impacted by the distraction of social media more than ever before. Science Daily (2020) wrote that “Today’s young people frequently juggle multiple streams of information and entertainment media while doing schoolwork, a trend that researchers call distracted learning.”

The findings continue endlessly showing the negative associations between social media use and education. Ravizza, Hambrick, and Fenn (2014) found that non-academic internet use negatively predicted exam scores. Lau (2017) similarly found that social media use negatively predicted cumulative GPA for university students. Even back in 2012 a study showed that over 85% of teachers endorsed the statement that “today’s digital technologies are creating an easily distracted generation” (Purcell, et al. 2012)

So what do I really want to find out?

I want to know the behaviours of BCM212 students. What platforms are they using? How long are they using them for per day? What do they find so addictive about them? I may even ask how students have tried to resist checking their socials during study time. 

I think the answers to these questions would have been shocking before the pandemic, but now that students are studying from home distraction is an even bigger problem. Studies show that since our first outbreak Australians now spend one third of their day in front of screens. Even just through conversations on BCM212 Twitter and in tutorials, I know that since covid, most students have found an increase in screen time and a lack of focus and productivity. With all of these factors considered, I don’t think I will have a shortage of students who can relate.

My research could help a range of people learn the implications of using social media whilst studying. It could show educators a more in-depth study on how students interact with social media in 2021 and it could also highlight to students what impacts it may be having on their education. 

Reference List

Celsian Education., 2020. TikTok in schools: dangerous distraction or the key to classroom creativity?. Celsian Education. 

Lau, W.W., 2017. Effects of social media usage and social media multitasking on the academic performance of university students. Computers in human behavior, 68, pp.286-291.

Purcell, K., Rainie, L., Heaps, A., Buchanan, J., Friedrich, L., Jacklin, A., Chen, C. and Zickuhr, K., 2012. How teens do research in the digital world. Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Susan M. Ravizza, David Z. Hambrick, Kimberly M. Fenn., 2014. Non-academic internet use in the classroom is negatively related to classroom learning regardless of intellectual ability. Computers & Education, Volume 78. 

The Educator., 2018. How harmful is screentime to children’s brains? K12 Higher Education. University of Illinois., 2020. Distracted learning a big problem, golden opportunity for educators, students. Science Daily.

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