Abstract: Social network is a platform for people share their ideals, to meet new friends and to reconnect with old friends. Social networking sites offer people new and varied ways to communicate via the internet, whether through their PC or their mobile phone. Examples include MySpace, Facebook, Skype etec. They allow people to easily and simply create their own online page or profile and to construct and display an online network of contacts, often called ‘friends’. Users of these sites can communicate via their profile both with their ‘friends’ and with people outside their list of contacts. With SNS it is easy to communicate with your classmate, discuss class assignment and even submit project to your lecturer, watch videos, make comment on your friend page etc. This study will focus on the effect of SNS on student academic performance, using GAU as a case study. What are student using SNS for, does it affect their studies, or help them to learn easily. This project will talk about the history of SNS, development and the users of SNS especially by student and lecturers in communicating with colleague and student as well. A 15 question personally administered questionnaire was designed and sent to about 50 students from different country and department in GAU.
Keywords: Social Networking, E-learning, Communication, Academic Performance, Social Media.
Since the introduction of social network sites years ago, to communicate with friends and family has been easy once you have access to internet. The internet has given us the ability to connect with people from around the globe with a few clicks of a button. And you can easily send information to a friend or get information. Social network sites (SNSs) such as MySpace, Facebook, Youtube, Skype etc, have attracted millions of users, many of whom have integrated these sites into their daily practices. People consume a lot of time on this sites uploading or downloading, getting information concerning their career or academic work. People are always online every second, chatting with friends, watching online movies, doing research. Social site has become an habit for some people, they find it difficult to study for one hour without login to one network site. Some people have become very smart because of the information they get from this sites, why some have become very poor academically, because it easy to get almost any materials for school assignment.
1.2. The Early Years of SNS
Social networking began in 1978 with the Bulletin Board System (or BBS.) The BBS was hosted on personal computers, requiring that users dial in through the modem of the host computer, exchanging information over phone lines with other users. This was the first system that allowed users to sign in and interact with each other, although it was quite slow since only one user could be logged in at a time. Later in the year, the very first copies of web browsers were distributed using the bulletin board Usenet. Usenet was created by Jim Ellis and Tom Truscott, and it allowed users to post news articles or posts, which were referred to as “news”. The difference between Usenet and other BBS and forums was that it didn’t have a dedicated administrator or central server. There are modern forums that use the same idea as Usenet today, including Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups. The first version of instant messaging came about in 1988 with Internet Relay Chat (IRC). IRC was Unix-based, limiting access to most people. It was used for link and file sharing, and generally keeping in touch with one another.1
The first meaningful social network site is SixDegrees.com, it was launched in 1997. It was the SNS that allowed users to create profiles, list their Friends and, beginning in 1998, surf the Friends lists. Each of these features existed in some form before SixDegrees, of course. Profiles existed on most major dating sites and many community sites. AIM and ICQ buddy lists supported lists of Friends, although those Friends were not visible to others. Classmates.com allowed people to affiliate with their high school or college and surf the network for others who were also affiliated, but users could not create profiles or list Friends until years later. SixDegrees was the first to combine these features. SixDegrees promoted itself as a tool to help people connect with and send messages to others. While SixDegrees attracted millions of users, it failed to become a sustainable business and, in 2000, the service closed. Looking back, its founder believes that SixDegrees was simply ahead of its time (A. Weinreich, personal communication, July 11, 2007). While people were already flocking to the Internet, most did not have extended networks of friends who were online. Early adopters complained that there was little to do after accepting Friend requests, and most users were not interested in meeting strangers. From 1997 to 2001, a number of community tools began supporting various combinations of profiles and publicly articulated Friends. AsianAvenue, BlackPlanet, and MiGente allowed users to create personal, professional, and dating profiles—users could identify Friends on their personal profiles without seeking approval for those connections (O. Wasow, personal communication, August 16, 2007). Likewise, shortly after its launch in 1999, LiveJournal listed one‐directional connections on user pages. LiveJournal's creator suspects that he fashioned these Friends after instant messaging buddy lists (B. Fitzpatrick, personal communication, June 15, 2007)—on LiveJournal, people mark others as Friends to follow their journals and manage privacy settings. The Korean virtual worlds site Cyworld was started in 1999 and added SNS features in 2001, independent of these other sites (see Kim & Yun, this issue). Likewise, when the Swedish web community LunarStorm refashioned itself as an SNS in 2000, it contained Friends lists, guestbooks, and diary pages (D. Skog, 2007).
The next wave of SNSs began when Ryze.com was launched in 2001 to help people leverage their business networks. Ryze's founder reports that he first introduced the site to his friends primarily members of the San Francisco business and technology community, including the entrepreneurs and investors behind many future SNSs (A. Scott, personal communication, June 14, 2007). In particular, the people behind Ryze, Tribe.net, LinkedIn, and Friendster were tightly entwined personally and professionally. They believed that they could support each other without competing (Festa, 2003). In the end, Ryze never acquired mass popularity, Tribe.net grew to attract a passionate niche user base, LinkedIn became a powerful business service, and Friendster became the most significant, if only as "one of the biggest disappointments in Internet history".
1.3. What is a social networking site?
“Social” as the word sounds is deals with the way will communicate in our society, in which you meet and spend time with other people. Network is the connection of parts together to allow movement or communication with other parts. Social networking is the connection of friends or family together which allow you to communicate easily. With social networking sites you can have a long chain of friends you can chat or share information or ideal with. According to Boyd & Ellison (2008), “SNS can be defined as web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system”. At the most basic level social networking sites allow users to set up online profiles or personal homepages, and develop an online social network. The profile page functions as the user’s own webpage and includes profile information ranging from their date of birth, gender, religion, politics and hometown, to their favourite films, books quotes and what they like doing in their spare time. In addition to profile information, users can design the appearance of their page, and add content such as photos, video clips and music files.
2.1. Literature Review
When talking of about communication, scholars have always made emphasis, that “communication is the essence of science” (Garvey, 1979), and that “without communication there would no science (Lacy & Bush, 1983, p.193). this means that communication is one of the basic tools to human science.
The increased use of Social Networking Websites has become a global phenomenon in the past few years. What started out as a hobby for some computer literate people has become a social norm and way of life for people around the globe (Boyd, 2007). Teenagers and youth especially student have embraced these sites as a way to connect with their friend and make new once, share information, photos of their activities such as birthday, photo with friend in class etc, and showcase their social lives.
With the increase of technology used for communicating with the spread of the Internet, “Social Networking” has become an activity that is done primarily on the Internet, with sites like MySpace, Face book, Skype, etc (Coyle et al., 2008).
Many people especially student spend a lot of time on this site creating profile, updating or doing research concerning their career or academic work, while some just use it to chat with friends, post latest pictures of event they attended, e.g., Young et al., 2009, have examined their profiles to determine why and to what extent they are keen on posting their entire identity, sharing pictures and videos, and indicating their religious affiliations, marital status, and political orientations on the internet. These users interact with others, exchange information about their interests, raise discussions about new topics, follows news about specific topics on different Social Networking Sites.
With the advent of social network it has become easy to get information on nearly every issue around the globe. Before now it is not easy getting information, you need to buy newspaper, stay close to your TV set or radio to get information. Internet has change everything and social network has made it more flexible (lewis. 2008). According to the questionnaire used for this project, everybody who answered the questionnaire has access to the internet, and they are connected to one social network.
2.2. Social Network and the users
The issue of whether social networking helps or hurts a student’s academic performance is often depend on the larger issues identified with the overall use of SNS (e.g., its psychological effects; individual self-discipline and self-regulation concerns; human adaptability concerns). The benefit of using SNS includes: It create room for creativity among individuals, encouraging greater social interaction via electronic mediums; it provides greater access to information and information sources; it give individuals a sense of belonging among users of the same SNS; reduces barriers to group interaction and communications such as distance and social/economic status; and increasing the technological competency levels of frequent users of social media (Zwart, Lindsay, Henderson, & Phillips, 2011).
Internet usage has grown rapidly over the last few years. Users are able to build a network of connections that they can display as a list of friends. These friends may be people they have never met before in their life or people they only know or have met in real life. Most people have more friends on social network than they do in real life. It is important to note that the term ‘friend’, as used on a social networking site, is different from the way we approach it in the real life. In this project we will use the term as it is used on a social networking site.
The use of SNS is very common today. Facebook alone has over 750 million members, Twitter having over 177 million tweet per day, and about 3 billion people view Youtube each passing day. (Chen, & Bryer, 2012). The use of social networking sites has been repeatedly found to be the highest among those between the ages of 18-29 (Rainie, 2011); while the fastest growing segment utilizing SNSs since 2008 has been among those age 35 and older (Hampton, Sessions-Goulet, Rainie, & Purcell, 2011, p. 8). Approximately 61% of teens age 12-17 utilize SNSs to send messages to their friends on a regular basis (Lenhart, 2009). Overall, it has been found that women use SNS more than men to communicate and exchange information (Hampton, Sessions-Goulet, Rainie, & Purcell, 2011). The research carried out for this project female responded more than male.
So what this study will look at is the effect or impact of social network on student, does it affect their studies negatively or it help in increasing their performance academically.
2.3 Effect of Social Network on Academic performance
Sound Quality education produces productive students who lead to the prosperity of their respective educational institution and subsequently are proved as strong contributors to the national well-being. Tuckman (1975) defined performance as the apparent demonstration of understanding, concepts, skills, ideas and knowledge of a person and proposed that grades clearly depict the performance of a student. Hence, their academic performance must be managed efficiently keeping in view all the factors that can positively or negatively affect their educational performance. Use of technology such as internet is one of the most important factors that can influence educational performance of students positively or adversely. Shah et al. (2001) proposed that student users are affected by the internet and this impact is determined by the type of internet usage. They are positively affected by the informative use of internet while having drastic impact of recreational use of internet on them. Also, Oskouei (2010) proposed that internet is advantageous to both students and teachers if used as a tool of knowledge creation and dissemination. The effect of SNS usage will depend on the type of SNS the student is using, if student uses the internet for the purpose of leisure activity that interferes with academic, it will affect the student academic performance negatively.
The University of New Hampshire agrees, and believes that current college students grew up in the technology era and social networking is now just a part of a student's daily routine. Their research show that '63% of heavy users received high grades, compared to 65% of light users' (U of NH, 2009). The University of New Hampshire said that a majority of students use social networking for social connections and entertainment, but are also using it for education and professional reasons. Kirschnera revealed that students who multi-task between social networking sites and homework are likely to have 20% lower grades than a student who does not have a social networking site in visual range. Kirschnera believes that even running a social networking site on the background on a student's PC while studying or doing homework could lower a student's grade. He believes that "the problem is that most people have Facebook or other social networking sites, their e-mails and maybe instant messaging constantly running in the background while they are carrying out their tasks" (Enriquez, 2010).
American Educational Research Association conducted a research and it was declared on its annual conference in San Diego, California (2009) that SNSs users study less and generated lower grades eventually (21stcenturyscholar.org). Similarly, Banquil et al. (2009) found a continuing drop of grades among student users of social networking sites. However, many researchers also found a positive association between use of internet and SNS and academic performance of the student users. Students, using internet frequently, scored higher on reading skills test and had higher grades as well (Linda et al., 2006).
3.1. Research Methods
The research was conducted using questionnaire, which was distributed to about 50 GAU students, both undergraduate and postgraduate student alike. Out of the 50 questionnaire that was sent 48 were answered and returned, and two were not returned. 55% of the respondents are male while 45% are female. The respondent are from 10 different country’s of the world.
The main targets for this project are the students of Girne American University (http://www.gau.edu.tr), North Cyprus.
3.3. Objectives of the project
v To discover how the students of GAU, North Cyprus are using the social networking sites?
v To determine how the social networking sites can be used as a platform for educational learning for GAU student
3.4. Findings and Discussion
From the sample of 50 student it shows that all the student who answered the questionnaire uses more than one of the social network site provided in the questionnaire. From the result, it shows student uses more of Facebook, Skype and Youtube, while Wikipedia, Google+ and Linkedin are the least used among the respondent. Out of the 50 respondent 57% are male while 43% are female.
Student have access to the internet in the school environment. In cafeteria’s, Library, Cybrary and some strategic spot. There are also internet facilities in the dormitory for both male and female. Student are well exposed to internet, though the mode of teaching is classroom instruction and a marker board. For student to check their result be it mid-term result or semester exams result, student will need to use the internet. The school have a platform which is the E-learning. For student to access they will need to get a password which will enable them to access. Apart from check result you can also use to get materials for writing project or thesis, such as journals etc.
Below is the analysis of the questionnaire used for the study:
RQ. Primary use of social network sites?
About 48% of the respondent uses SNS for downloading of music, posting of photos and chatting, while about 52% uses SNS for research, submitting of assignment and articles. This shows that more student use SNS for academic work rather than for just leisure.
RQ. Friends in SNS compared to real life
62% of the respondent has more friends on SNS than they do in real life, while 38% says they have more friends in real life, and also says that all the friends they have on SNS they know in real life.
RQ. Social network help in getting materials for assignment
Most of the student agrees on the fact that SNS help them academically in getting educational materials for their assignment and project work. With the help of the internet it is almost possible to get any kind of subject material at your disposal. It becomes easier for GAU student, because the school have provided the enable environment for student to access the internet with ease. With the these facilities available student can do research.
RQ. Expressing your ideals and feelings on SNS
About 57% of the student thinks that SNS is not a good platform to express your feelings and ideals. They believe in real life interaction, face to face. Where they can see the expression on the face of the person they are talking to, while 43% of the respondent thinks otherwise. They think SNS is a good platform to express your ideals or feelings. Some students are crowd shy or they think that their ideal is not good enough and feels they may be embarrassed by the lecturer or fellow student may laugh at them. So they believe expressing it through SNS will help them avoid any form of embarrassment, and also be able to express their mind.
RQ. Does SNS affect in writing and speaking in everyday life?
About 58% of the respondent says that SNS does affect the way they communicate to people both in speaking and in writing, while 42% says SNS does not affect them in speaking or in writing. If we take a proper look at it, the way we communicate in SNS especially in writing, we write in short form and most of the words used are slang. This could affect in spelling words.
RQ. Studying time
About 50% says social network sites does not affect their study time, while the other 50% says the social networking sites affect their study time. Especially when they want to study that is when someone will send them a message . so, if you have planned to study for 3 hours and you chat for say 45 minutes, your time of study has already be cut short by 30 minutes, and if it continues like that it will lead to low grade.
RQ. SNS effective tool for e-learning
85% of the respondent believes that social networking sites is an effective tool for e-learning, while 14% thinks otherwise, and 1% did not respond to the question. Student who support , thinks that with SNS one can easily submit assignment, without necessary going to meet lecturer face to face. Student can interact with other student on a particular subject and share ideals.
A large response from the student shows that student are using SNS to do various things such as writing of class assignment, checking of result and other related group and social activities. At first it will be easy to predict that too much use of SNS might have adverse impact on academic performance of student in GAU, but the result did not imply the same. It shows that student is managing the time they spend on the use SNS, and to make sure it does not affect their academic performance. Students are exposed to the internet and they are not shy in using it for research and career activities, to upgrade their academic knowledge, and GAU has putting in place internet facilities that will help student achieve their academic goals. From the response of the student a large percentage prefer the method of submitting assignment online. This is one of the way GAU has improved in E-learning. Every lecturer has an e-mail address which they give to student, not only to submit assignment or project but also to ask question on subject student are not clear with.
Findings suggested that despite spending time on the use of internet or on SNS, students are still efficient enough for their studies, they do not face any difficulty in meeting their studies requirements.
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