Social media negatively impacts student productivity

January 17, 2012 — by Karen Sung

When senior Lisa Asai comes home from school, one of the first things she always does is to log onto her Facebook account and check her newsfeed before starting homework. She often has the habit of also checking Facebook periodically on her iPhone whenever she’s bored, sometimes even while in the bathroom.

Over the past decade, an increasing number of students, like Asai, have incorporated social media websites into their daily study routines. With 96 percent of high school students using Facebook, it’s clear that these powerful websites have become an important part of most students’ lives, shaping the way students study and learn.

Although Facebook does have its advantages, such as utilizing groups and events, a study done by Ohio State University showed that 68 percent of students who use the website have significantly lower GPAs than those who do not.

Asai, who spends at least an hour on Facebook daily, admits that she finds it can be difficult to resist the temptation of constantly checking Facebook for updates.

“It’s so easy to go on Facebook at any time, especially when I’m tired or want a break from homework,” she said. “It’s pretty much a daily routine.”

Before Asai had a Facebook account, she would start homework immediately after coming home, but now she intersperses her homework time with breaks by logging on to Facebook. She finds one of the reasons that makes the website so hard to stay away from is the stream of notifications and the ability to always see what everyone else is doing.

She said that by now, she automatically “logs on without even noticing” whenever she becomes distracted while using the computer for schoolwork, which she realizes can harm her grades.
“It can be like a disease,” Asai said. “I feel empty without checking it; it’s as if I need to be updated every day.”

She is not alone in feeling this way. A study conducted by Interspierence, a research firm, showed that 53 percent of social networking users felt upset and lonely when deprived of the Internet. This similarity to drug withdrawal has resulted in many psychologists comparing social media, dubbed “digital dependence” by the study, to that of a drug addiction.

Tumblr, another social network website, has rapidly grown in popularity since it was first launched in 2007 and is known for its blogging purposes.

By scrolling through a constant flow of posts from the blogs she follows on her “dashboard,” sophomore Jessica Pham finds Tumblr to be even more addictive than Facebook and spends around two hours daily on the website.

“I used to be able to just sit down and work on my homework, but now I can never stay focused,” Pham said. “It’s like I need something to entertain me while I do my homework.”

A healthy balance between schoolwork and these websites is difficult to achieve. Trying to multitask between the two leads to 20 percent lower grades on average, according to studies.

Although many students realize that social networking media websites are not beneficial for their grades, they find it difficult to break the habit.

While sophomore Brian Lyu mainly uses Facebook to connect with friends he doesn’t see often at school, he knows many peers who are constantly online. He avoids logging on until he’s finished with homework, but he believes that many students go online as a way to “temporarily forget about homework and relieve some stress.”

For those who are determined to spend less time online but don’t want to delete their accounts, both Asai and Pham suggest asking a friend to change and keep the password.

“No one wants to get rid of their accounts permanently, so ask someone trusted to change the password for you,” Asai said. “Think of it as someone babysitting it for you, and you’ll have more time to study and focus.”

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