Overview of Facebook for Students

Before discussing the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook for students -- I believe it is first best to get an quick overview of what exactly 'Facebook' is.

As social networking sites have now become an integral part of a student's everyday life and with Facebook considered to be the 'Big Daddy' of the online social networking world -- consisting of over 900 million users, it is not too surprising to find that more than 96% of students claim they have a Facebook Profile (with 10% using it daily)[4346]  -- this coupled with the fact it actually originated from a student, Mark Zuckerberg, on Havard University Campus.

So How does Facebook work?

Each user on Facebook.com has their own free to set-up individual profile from which they can engage with others user's Facebook profiles through instant messaging, email and recently 'video calling' in association with Skype and notifications etc. Furthermore, Facebook users are able to engage in applications, participate in interest groups and organize events through Facebook. And in the future who knows what the possibilites for social networking sites such as Facebook can offers us -- but the primary objective of such a site (at least for now) is to keep people 'connected'. 

How to Use Facebook

Advantages of Facebook for Students

Group Study & Collaboration With Teacher Integration - a positive aspect of Facebook for students is for the promotion of group study and collaboration, along with the further possibility of educators and teachers having a 'watchful eye' and a 'helping hand' in group discussions which that can be taken away from the classroom. Students have the ability to share ideas and their feelings towards a certain aspect and help one another in problem solving and understanding particular concepts. Furthermore, students can share useful information that they have come across in further research they may have carried out that, from a topic the teacher has posted -- for example a particularly useful article, or an educational video -- all of which can be brought 'back' into classroom discussion and reflect positively in a student's work. From Facebook you are able to organize private groups in which students are able to carry out essentially large revision sessions in which everyone can benefit from one person sharing a particularly helpful point or comment -- or if a particular student is struggling with a certain concept and explains what it is they are struggling with on the Facebook group, other students can come in and help with that aspect -- which may help additional students too. 

A Greater Sense of Community and 'Fun' - again with Facebook due to its ease and free communication,(an advantage for penniless students all by itself) it is a great platform for sharing information fast and can keeping a lot of students feeling 'connected' -- hence it is easy to keep people updated with relevant information and aspects and keep people involved and active in events. It is estimated that as a result of Facebook -- students are now "twice as likely" to participate in campus activities (compared with students who are non-Facebook users). Furthermore, students are also more likely to be feel like they have more 'friends' and hence 'popular' and sociable than that of non-Facebook using students. [4345]

Keeping Students Up to Date - by simply 'liking' a Facebook fan page such as 'The Economist' or 'The Financial Times' students can allow themselves to be kept up to date on a vast array of current (and mostly) quality information and news -- through articles, videos etc. that Facebook fan pages like the examples above share through their 'wall'. From this they can expand upon current knowledge and also learn about new things that can be potentially beneficial to the student and their education.

If you have any additional advantages of Facebook for students please be sure to add them to the comments box below.

Disadvantages of Facebook for Students

Negatively Impacts on Grades - Of course there are two sides to this aspect, Facebook can obviously benefit a student's grade from healthy debate and discussion but it also has the negative effect on a student's grade as a result of potential procrastination and distraction. Having said this -- the 'net' Facebook effect, for students who multi-task (e.g. Switch from revising to Facebook etc.) are said to see a drop by 20% in their grades. This can be rather easily solved -- don't multitask, drop Facebook and start revising! [4345]

Psychological Issues - Another negative factor of Facebook for students is it can promote ill feeling to be an individual as well as the feeling of loneliness and depression, and in some cases causing individuals to  become more aggressive. This is hardly surprising considering the amount of 'depressive' type statuses that are seen through Facebook. Hence, it can put you on a downer rather than a high. Log off, turn off -- go outside and play football, you will  probably be quite surprised how much happier and positive you are (if you like football of course).

Vulnerable - an important point students need to be aware of is the information that they upload on and share to Facebook from several areas. For example, if a student claims that they are going on holiday in a few days to X-land -- this could give a 'go ahead' for a potential robbery as they know the house to be empty. Furthermore, an individual could know more information about than you would like them too, having said that do you even know really how much Facebook knows about you? I think you would certainly be surprised. Be careful and be private!

 If you have any additional disadvantages of Facebook for students please be sure to add them to the comments box below.

Summary of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Facebook for Students

Overall, I believe students who are fully aware of the potential benefits and drawbacks (as detailed above) can gain greatly in a number of aspects from Facebook, bearing in mind they approach it with the right strategy. For example, when it comes to around exam time and that means revision and study time -- they either ban themselves from using it or better still delete their account until exams have finished (and don't worry Facebook make it *surprisingly* easy to get your account back). They also refrain from using it 'too much' e.g. they only log in to their account once every few days to check for events that are going on and to participate in educational groups and get in touch with the news. At least not to the extent of logging in with every notification. If a student approaches Facebook maturely and wisely then it can be a great platform for them to benefit from, otherwise it could lead to a potential 'minor' road to ruin, with the likes of obsession and depression.

If you have any additional advantages and disadvantages of Facebook for students or any general remarks then I encourage you to please leave a comment below.