Social media has taken the world by storm over the past decade with a firm grip on news, entertainment, and even education. Today, there’s a generation of students who have grown up in a world of social media and never lived during a time without social media much less the internet. Regardless of one’s personal feeling towards social media, it has transformed the digital landscape.
In this post, we will cover the impact social media has had on social competence and education. We start by defining and outlining the differences between face-to-face (FTF) interactions and computer mediated context (CMC). We will answer:
- What are the benefits of social media on social development?
- What are the negative implications of interactions in a computer mediated context?
- Do young people have a preference for online communication?
- How does social media impact higher education?
- How has social media changed college admissions?
- Is there a connection between social media, social competence, and essay writing services?
The social media effect on social intelligence and education
Young adulthood is an important time in a person’s life as they develop more intimate relationships with people outside of their family. As such, there is a narrow window of time to develop certain skills and truly become comfortable with others. Mainly, social intelligence through speaking and non-verbal communication is developed initially with the family and then extends out into peers after the age of twelve (Gregory & Soderman, 2010). Traditionally, students learn to interact with others in environments like school, the playground, and other social groups. In the last ten years, much social engagement and interaction has shifted towards an online, computer mediated context (CMC). This is heavily contrasted with face-to-face interaction (FTF) because the physical presence is not a factor. The impact of social networking sites like Facebook have drastically changed the way in which youths gain social intelligence and communicate.
Since its inception in 2004 by then Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has grown to be the social network of choice for over two billion people. A 2011 survey by Carroll & Kirkpatrick (2011) found that almost 80% of teens use social media sites to communicate with friends on a daily basis. Social media sites surely have become quite popular among teens, as many scholars have further explored the impact on social development. It is important to recognize that there is a strong similarity between how social skills are learned in person and via CMC. Sheldon (2009) argued that the same means by which youths engage in uncertainty reduction practices and build attraction through self-disclosure is also present in CMC.
Benefits for social development
Social development has impacted youths because shy people have an opportunity to build relationships without necessarily taking on more interpersonal risk. For example, Baker et al (2010) remarked that the “online environment may provide a comfortable environment for shy individuals to interact with others” (p. 875). That is, shy people have a much greater opportunity for making friends and building relationships because they can use a wide range of devices such as cell phones, desktops, laptops, and tablets. A core component of gaining social intelligence is being able to actively seek and find information about others through traditional social cues such as style of dress, accent, physical appearance and social status. With CMC, youths can still develop this aspect of social intelligence because they have access to an overwhelming amount of information on the web through profiles, pictures and status updates (Baker et al, 2010).
Developing the critical skill of approaching others and creating friendships is actually easier through CMC because there is much less social risk. Teens and young adults also have much more access to support groups and other sources of information because of its widespread availability (Carroll, 2011). Because there is wider availability of support and little threat of immediate humiliation, CMC provides an easier way for youths to explore these different social relationships.
Increase of social confidence and network
CMC has also impacted social development of youths because it is possible to build more relationships with much less work, or communication. Ellison et al (2007) argued that youths have gained much more social capital due to the fact that they can keep weak ties in their networks. With more relationships developing with ease, youths are able to foster tighter relationships with people that they previously could not see that often (Ellison et al, 2007). This has contributed to a stronger development of confidence. For example, if youths are able to expand their network and keep friends without doing much work, then their self-esteem is boosted. This not only contributes to social intelligence, but it also brings about access to new information and tangible benefits later in life. In another article, Ellison et al (2010) also remarked that building stronger social ties through CMC has allowed youths to change their conception of friendship drastically. While people were historically limited to having friends in their physical proximity, youths can now develop friendships with others internationally. Consequently, social development has been accelerated for more extraverted individuals who want to pursue such avenues thus leading to overall better wellness and academic performance.
Negative effects of online communication on social development
Despite advantages for social development, CMC does also inhibit development of other critical aspects of social intelligence. For example, morality is developed from a young age and is then learned through example as one gets older. Turiel (2002) argued that morality is heavily derived from seeing others interact with each other. Through physical interactions with others, youths develop skills such as empathy, emotional intelligence and an ability to express themselves with more comfort. However, CMC inhibits the physical aspect of learning traits such as morality. Moreover, social development is inhibited in terms of negative modes of communication.
Cyberbullying is a common example of a phenomenon from physical interaction that carried over to the digital world (Greenfield, 2008). Greenfield (2008) lamented that youths are actually more prone to bullying on the web because of the impersonal nature of communication. As a result, some youths have discovered that their emotional well-being is not entirely safe and secure on the internet. Carroll (2011) sadly noted that CMC “has been connected to cases of youth suicide with teens known to engage in reading hurtful comments days before their suicide attempts” (Carroll, 2011). Clearly, social development is negatively impacted if students are exposed to much more intense levels of harassment and emotional duress. Such instances also result in youths being much more introverted and prone to depression (Valkenburg, 2006).
Young people prefer communicating online
Another major impact of CMC on social development is that youths are not learning critical lessons regarding non-verbal communication. FTF communication is associated with learning physical cues, body language, and emotional intelligence. Baker et al’s (2010) study found that many youths wholly prefer CMC over FTF. This means that youths have a stronger incentive to keep their relationships as digital as possible. Greenfield (2008) cited the reasoning for such behavior to be because disclosing information is much easier when the person is not physically present. When the personal information may be degrading, sensitive or embarrassing, texting or online chats may decrease the discomfort level. As a result, youths are much more comfortable disclosing personal information and maintaining their friendships over the internet. Social development is severely inhibited with respect to going out and communicating with others in a tangible world.
A major implication of CMC is that youths who prefer CMC over FTF will not develop the necessary skills to communicate with others in the workplace and other important social settings. For example, if a youth is uncomfortable discussing a personal matter in person with someone, then they may not have the option to do it digitally. In such instances, an inability to communicate in a face-to-face setting may result in increased passivity and apprehension towards expressing oneself (Greenfield, 2008). Research done by Rosen (2011) also agreed that youths are becoming much more uncomfortable with FTF as a direct result of CMC. Surely, this is a negative implication of CMC that stems from the fact that our society has truly adopted such modes of communication without much thought to how it affects youths.
CMC also contributes to social withdrawal in some cases. It is critical for youths to spend time with their peers and friends because it helps foster more intimate relationships. However, because youths are spending more time finding information about friends on the internet, they may be more prone to avoid some social situations. For instance, while Greenfield’s (2008) study found that “61 percent [of youths] feel that time online does not take away from time spent with friends,” almost 80 percent reported that their interactions with friends have shifted more towards being solely online rather than in person (p. 126). The reasoning for this behavioral pattern is due to the fact that CMC “facilitated the formation of “hyper-personal” relationships – greater feelings of intimacy than would have otherwise been experienced in face-to-face (FTF) relationships.” (Sheldon, 2009, p.1). Ultimately, social development is negatively impacted by CMC because less time with FTF communication means that youths withdraw themselves from physically seeing one another more.
Body language and non-verbal communication
Body language and non-verbal communication are developed for the purpose of being able to adequately judge another person’s feelings of intentions through their presence. It is a widely used and natural communication technique that is critical for social development. Youths learn to judge others’ attitudes, reactions, and expressions much more clearly if they are aware of the non-verbal cues present. However, CMC has altered this because youths feel more comfortable in gaining information about others through online profiles and status updates (Ellison et al, 2010). Without adequate practice and use of non-verbal communication, key benefits are missed: enhanced social intelligence about others and enhanced intimate communication (Gregory & Soderman, 2010). According to Gibbs et al (2010), people feel much more comfortable looking online for social cues rather than in person. The negative implication of not learning non-verbal communication through body language is that youths have no incentive to learn it and may miss out on key social cues when the time arises.
How social media affects education
The internet has forever changed the way students learn; online learning has changed the landscape of higher education so many higher education institutions must utilize technology to not only appeal to college-age students but adults returning to college as well. A large part of daily internet usage involves social media, especially among the younger generation of students. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 90% of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 use social media. Most institutions have implemented successful social media strategies, especially to reach students pursuing higher education. The role of social media plays in increases as young people continue to trade face-to-face interactions for an online CMC. Today, colleges and universities use social media to communicate with the new generation using relatable voice on the different social platforms every day.
Social media and college admissions
Starting at the beginning, even the admissions process is heavily influenced by social media. Admissions leaders at colleges and universities are not only reading admissions essays but are now also turning to social media to accept new students. The appropriateness and attitudes of searching and looking at applicant’s social media accounts have drastically changed over the years.
Admissions scandals have plagued higher education for years, even before social media. In June 2017, Harvard revoked the acceptance of ten admitted applicants after they were found posting inappropriate jokes and insulting remarks in a private Facebook group (Jaschik). While the percentage of admissions officers checking the social media profiles seems to have decreased recently, the admissions officers still checking tend to find influential information.
On the flip side, students pursuing higher education use the social media accounts of colleges of interest to make an informed decision. The content posted on a college’s social media account speaks volumes of the culture and student life. Before, students would have to visit the campus in person to learn the same amount of information.
Students typically visit and compare websites on their search for higher education. Students will eventually be pursued by ads around the internet, including back on social media. Facebook and Twitter ads from a prospect university are not uncommon for students, especially if they’re in the admissions process. Higher education institutions have the ability to harness the power of social media in many ways.
Increasing student engagement
Higher education institutions use social media to increase student engagement on campus. Thanks to advancements in technology, many students are choosing to pursue online classes or complete online education. Online students tend to be less engaged with school activities and events than their on-campus counterparts. Many schools use social media to inform students of fundraisers, scholarship opportunities, social mixers, and social events. While the events may be marketed on campus in the form of posters, the best way to share news and upcoming events is now through social media. This way, news reaches both students on campus and online.
Every platform offers students unique benefits. LinkedIn is the best place to build professional networks with current students and alumni; using LinkedIn effectively as a student can be a huge stepping stone in starting a career after graduation. Facebook also provides students a place to build a network with other students and alumni, but also stay up to date on school events and activities.
Colleges can use Snapchat and Instagram use images and short video content to build brand image, which helps lead future students to the school. Instagram images may give potential students the best snapshot into the culture of the institution. While, Snapchat provides students with a more intimate way to engage at school-sponsored events. YouTube gives institutions the power to show the world the best parts of being a student at their school and build a dedicated fanbase for clubs and sports. Social media can be used positively to improve the educational experience.
Essay writing services and social competence
Essay writing services go hand-in-hand with higher education due to the prominence of academic essays and research papers. Most degree programs require students to complete a variety of classes outside their field of expertise to complete general education requirements. As a result, an engineering student with an aptitude for math will most likely have to participate in at least one English class. A prerequisite English class may prove to be a challenge for any student who doesn’t specialize in writing, especially when it comes to writing an essay or research paper. Some may argue essay writing sites offer the same services as writing labs, that is actually not the case. Writing labs sponsored by schools help students edit and proofread their work. For some students, editing and proofreading aren’t enough, especially if they don’t know how to get started with their paper.
Essay writing services, like Ultius, empower students with a new way to tackle challenging writing assignments. Students can buy essay samples written by a professional writer and use them as an example of what the assignment should look like if written professionally. As previously mentioned, the current generation of students has grown up with social media and have learned to interact with the world via CTC. Essay writing services provide a purely technological approach to communication. From placing an online order to communicating with customer and the writer through chat and e-mail, a good essay writing service provides an ideal and comfortable environment for students who may not want to interact with a professor or tutor face-to-face.
Social media comparisonSource: Google
This chart shows the most popular essay writing services and their social media
Use social media to improve your social competence and education
Social media is a juggernaut in today’s world and has taken over news, entertainment, and education. There are both negative and positive side effects of social media. As more young people spend more time online, they are less comfortable in face-to-face interactions and more likely to be bullied or participate in inappropriate behaviors that could negatively affect future education and career opportunities. Despite the negative side effects, students can use social media to their advantage by creating professional online personas, networking with students and professionals, and seek help and advice from anywhere in the world. Social media enriches the college experience by catering to the strengths and weaknesses of a new generation tech-savvy of students.
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Carroll, J., & Kirkpatrick, R. (2011). Impact of social media on adolescent behavioral health. Oakland: California Adolescent Health Collaborative.
Ellison, N., Steinfeld, C., & Lampe, C. (2010). Connection Strategies: Social Capital Implications of Facebook-enabled Communication Practices. New Media & Society, XX(X), 1-20.
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Gibbs, J., Ellison, N., & Lai, C. (2010). First Comes Love, Then Comes Google: An Investigation of Uncertainty Reduction Strategies and Self-Disclosure in Online Dating. Communication Research, 38(1), 70-100.
Greenfield, P., & Subrahmanyam, K. (2008). Online Communication and Adolescent Relationships. The Future of Children, 18(1), 119-146.
Jaschik, Scott. “Admissions Snooping on Social Media: the Data.” Inside Higher ED, 5 June 2017, www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2017/06/05/data-show-significant-minority-admissions-officers-check-applicants.
Rosen, L. (Director) (2011, August 9). Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids. 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. Lecture conducted from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Sheldon, P. (2009). “I’ll poke you. You’ll poke me!” Self-disclosure, social attraction, predictability and trust as important predictors of Facebook relationships. Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 3(2), 1-23.
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Valkenburg, P., Peter, J., & Schouten, A. (2006). Friend Networking Sites and Their Relationship to Adolescents Well-Being and Social Self-Esteem. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9(5), 584-90.