Spending time on social media sites, such as Facebook, can help students do better in school, according to new research by an education professor at University of Maryland.
In a survey of 600 low-income high school students, Christine Greenhow found that students build bonds when they connect with school friends on social networking sites. She said she focused on low-income students because research on this group is lacking but necessary for creating more equal learning opportunities.
“When kids feel connected and have a strong sense of belonging to the school community, they do better in school,” Greenhow told the investigative reporting website California Watch.
Some students also turn to their social networks for tips about college and career choices.
Her paper will be published in the winter, but the debate is still going strong about whether teachers should use social media in their classrooms.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education released its National Education Technology Plan, which includes a proposal to use social networking as a platform for learning. Some educators are concerned that the sites encourage students to procrastinate and catch up with friends.
Earlier this month, JJIE reported on a study that says social networking teens are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs because they see pictures of the activities on the sites.
Greenhow acknowledges the pitfalls, but still believes in recognizing the positive side. She’s been studying adolescent Internet habits since 2007, and also found that high school students are boosting their creativity and technology skills through the sites.
Whether social networking is good or bad, many students are using the sites on a daily basis. Seventy-three percent of wired American teens now use social networking websites, according to the most recent data presented by the Pew Research Center in 2010.