Overview of Twitter for Students
Before going into the intrinsic advantages and disadvantages of Twitter for students -- I believe it is best to firstly establish a clear concept as to what exactly a student does and can do on Twitter.
In modern day living -- social networking sites such as 'Twitter' have become an integral part of day to day activity, especially for a student (with 14% of students saying these use Twitter on a 'Typical Day' ). Twitter has fast become an online (and growing) community that allows a student to easily create a free 'Twitter profile' which gives the user a capacity to send a 'Tweet' which is a text based message of up to 140 characters to all their 'Followers'. The real 'uniqueness' surrounding Twitter compared to other social networking sites such as Facebook -- is basically its 'simplicity and straightforward approach'. For a more detailed description and explanation of what Twitter actually does -- please check out the 'How to Use Twitter' video just below.
What Exactly is Twitter? -- How Twitter Works
Advantages of Twitter for Students
Further Student Engagement in 'Outside' Class Discussion - a potential benefit of Twitter for students has been pointed out by several academic studies which indicate that students who use the Twitter platform to engage in discussions surrounding topics set by a teacher are likely to improvement on their grade, for example one study found "a 0.5 point increase in their overall GPA" . Hence, there is obviously a positive aspect of Twitter for students in terms of their grades -- where if educators provide the surroundings for discussion on Twitter -- then this therefore provides an opportunity for discussion outside the classroom which can potentially improve student engagement as well as the results of students.
Teaches Students to Keep their Arguments Concise and to the Point - another positive that may well go hand in hand with the point made above, is the fact as Twitter is 'simple' in the fact that you are only limited to using a 140 characters -- it teaches students to make points concisely and 'to the point' rather than with other social networking sites such as Facebook where you can ramble and ramble. A student on Twitter is instead forced to get straight to the point using and presenting words that are 'useful and relevant' whilst presented in a concise manner -- which is an good effective skill to have developed for the work place.
Keeping up to Date with all the Latest News and Trends - through Twitter students can benefit from having 'up to date' information easily accessible for them -- through Tweets that have links to news and informational articles that interest them. For example, if an Economics student wanted to follow 'The Economist', then this means usually every time 'The Economist' publishes a new article -- the student sees in their 'News Feed' the Tweet from the Economist with a link and a brief description surrounding the article -- from this the student can therefore learn, read and expand upon their current knowledge that can potentially further benefit their education, that otherwise they may have not known about.
If you have any additional benefits of Twitter for students, then please share a comment below.
Disadvantages of Twitter for Students
A Further Opportunity to Procrastinate from Revision (Time Consumption) - although Twitter can be used to benefit a student's education (as mentioned above) -- it also has the opportunity to do the complete opposite effect and distract (& sabotage) a student from engaging in study and revision. A student's grade can seriously suffer if instead of revising and studying, all they are doing instead is tweeting and following other Twitter user's Tweets -- this coupled with the fact Twitter has thought to be even more 'Addictive' and 'harder to resist' than cigarettes doesn't help either .
Making Yourself Vulnerable - as with most social networking sites, if you are not cautious of what information you are uploading and sharing on to Twitter -- you may become a potential victim to an internet predator. For example, as with Twitter you are able to create 'anonymous' accounts -- you don't always exactly know who it is that is actually following you -- and if for example a student happened to Tweet they were going on holiday to X-Land on Yth of July, this could give the signal to a potential robber that the house will be all clear for a potential robbery etc. Furthermore, for example what if your are unaware that your 'boss' is following you and you happened to Tweet something they deemed inappropriate, you may have found you just missed out on a new job opportunity. It is important to actually 'think' before you Tweet.
Psychological and Social Issues - there have also been many academic studies conducted surrounding social networking sites and its effects (e.g. 'The Twitter Effect') and impacts on the social and psychology of a person including students -- unfortunately these seem to be rather on the negative and 'depressive side'. For example a recent study by the University of Vermont found 'Twitter' is making us "more unhappy"  as well as "less human" explained by Professor Turkle in her book 'Alone Together'.
If you have any additional disadvantages of students using Twitter, then please do leave a comment below.
Summary of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Twitter for Students
Overall, my verdict on students using Twitter is rather 'mixed' on the one hand Twitter can be a great platform for students to really gain from deep discussion and develop a more in depth way of presenting and thinking about ideas and grasping information. Moreover, a site that can keep students up to date with the latest trends and on-goings,and enable them to keep in touch with long-distance friends as well as the ability to share information and socially engage with them etc. However, on the other hand, if you do not use Twitter (and such other social networking sites) wisely as a student you can potentially send yourself on the road to 'minor' ruin -- for example if you are tweeting and reading tweets instead of actually revising you can end up with a poor exam score -- furthermore it has the potential to cause you to be unhappy and depressive and if you are not careful with what information you share -- you can put yourself in harms way. So in my view if a student were to approach Twitter in the 'right' way -- it can be a potentially great site for them to visit and gain from.
If you have any other benefits and drawbacks of Twitter for students or any other general remarks, then please leave a comment below.