Social networking hurts the communication skills of college students
Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 23:10
Although media and networking sites were created to facilitate better communication, social networks are ruining the public communication skills of college students in America.
According to Northern Michigan University, college students who used Facebook while studying, even just having it in the background, earned grades 20 percent lower on average than non-users in 2010.
Social networking sites are designed to allow college students to maintain bonds with family and friends often separated by distance.
However, it has become a detour for college students to avoid personal contact with professors and campus peers, which is a key for success.
Reliance on social media has decreased the relationships formed between students and their professor due to the detachment of e-mail, hiding the face linked to your voice.
Dr. Kelley Crowley, who teaches public relations writing and principles of advertising at West Virginia University, agrees that relationships with her students are different due to these networking tools.
"Students have become reticent and intimidated in the classroom to speak directly with me. Rather, they feel more comfortable sending me an e-mail from behind a computer screen, which is impersonal and does not contain context at all," Crowley said.
Students prefer to participate in brief e-mail exchanges when they should be pursuing real relationships. "Avoiding personal interactions harms the competency of young professionals ... (It's difficult for students) to speak to respected professionals during interviews because they lack the necessary nonverbal behaviors, like eye contact,"she said.
Face-to-face communication and phone conversations have become foreign to the millions of users who rely on social media and networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
College-aged users, in particular, are aware that the opportunities to communicate using these tools are countless and convenient, but I am concerned the number of informal and improper communication errors will dramatically increase and threaten the intelligence and productivity of our generation.
At least once per day, I log into my networking sites to read the poor grammar.
Writing skills reflect intelligence and articulation, which should be taken seriously.
A vast difference exists between the way most students communicate via social networking sites and how they should write and speak to professors, employers and respected campus peers.
Yet, the common mistakes are an embarrassment and frustrating for the rest of us in cyberspace to read.
Earlier this week, I painfully read the Facebook status of an anonymous communication major, which read, "This wknd was off the chain! If yall was their then you know what I talking bout."
In order to graduate with a degree in communication studies, students are required to have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 and complete 128 credit hours, of which 36 hours are emphasized in communication studies.
In this specific major, students are also expected to be able to clearly explain thoughts, ideas, opinions and relevant theories through assignments and written exams.
Communication studies should be a difficult major that requires professional and disciplined abilities to complete, which leaves me scratching my head regarding this student's status.
I hope the anonymous student's status was a joke, but I have a hunch that it was a serious statement that is a result of excessive social networking and minimal knowledge on how it should be used.
Media literacy is a tool that needs to be taught proper usage, much like a gun. A gun is a tool that can be used for protection, or it can be used to go around shooting at anyone and anything.
Similarly, social networking sites are tools that can be used to represent one as a professional seeking networking opportunities.
Or you can log on and make yourself look like a fool.
In an Oct. 12 CNN article "The ultimate guide to proper Facebooking," Simcha Whitehill discusses eight rules about using the social networking site Facebook. These rules should be strictly followed. Rules such as "Don't drink and type," "Do not delete your exes" and "Tag, you're it" should be considered when portraying oneself to 500 million users, especially when job hunting.
The Washington Post featured an article "Check your spelling and grammar with After the Deadline."
The author suggests students use After the Deadline, a browser plug-in that checks for spelling, grammar and writing style mistakes.
The browser is free and available with Chrome and Firefox.
Although this feature will not find all careless mistakes, at least it can provide assistance before submitting an assignment with elementary mistakes.
In doing so, maybe students can prevent looking like a fool in front of professors, friends and future colleagues.