This research effort is targeted at finding the effects of social media on students’ performance. Therefore, the literature review discusses the relevant research that is useful to the objectives of this research project. Several research studies investigating the topic under review are found to be very recent. Since most of the innovative features offered by social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many others are not that old and the phenomenon of the use of these media has boosted recently with the introduction of revolutionary features and platforms, a volume of recent research on its effects on students’ academic performance is available. Most of the studies chosen have been published in the past four to five years.
Tess (2013) presents a very comprehensive literature review paper regarding the role of social media in higher education virtual and real classes. The review has consulted almost every popular research database around the world to make this review rich in terms of covering almost every aspect of explaining the role of different social media in higher education classes.
This research finds Facebook to be the most popular social networking site among students as reported by some researchers and it has reached a one billion user base in October 2012. Myspace is another SNS which started in 2003 and got popular among people around 2009. However it is not that popular among educational setups. Linkedln with more than 35,000,000 users has been reported as the third most popular SNS but mostly used for professional networking. In addition, this research found Blogs, Social Impact, and twitter among the other popular social networking sites.
The review found a mix of opinion regarding whether social networking platforms and technology should be integrated into learning processes or not. Tess (2013) literature survey finds many reasons for this mix of opinion. Although most of the educational institutions have established infrastructure for the support of social media integration into class room learning, however, the effective integration methodology is still a question mark for the researchers to answer. Some practitioners are not willing to adopt this technology due to lack of proper training in this area.
His review argues that researchers who support the integration of social media into educational setup are of the view that conversational processes ensuring maximum interaction and maximum mix of reflections are possible only through social networking platforms.
While reflecting on the impact of social networking sites on students’ performance, Tess (2013) again finds a variety of diverse correlations existing in the literature. Some studies find significantly negative correlation between students’ results and use of social media while others find no correlations or weak correlations. Even a few studies come up with positive correlations although not very significant. Interestingly, the negative correlations between SNS’s usage and poor performance have been associated with personality traits or other behavioral or psychological aspects rather than solely with the use of these platforms.
Rouis, Limayem, & Salehi-Sangari (2011) investigate the effects of using Facebook on academic performance of undergraduate students at Lulea University of Technology Sweden in relation to their personality traits. The proposed research model tests how Facebook usage effects performance of students with different personality traits. In addition the research tries to justify the relationship among the three i.e. Facebook usage, personality traits and academic performance. Their analysis of 239 students’ data reveals very significant results. This research establishes that using Facebook has strong negative impact on academic performance of students with extrovert personalities. However, factor of self-regulation among students greatly reduces this negative impact as they have high level of effective self-control while using social media platforms. Cognitive absorption, which defines extent of deep involvement, is another personality factor taken into consideration while undertaking this research.
Rouis, Limayem & Salehi-Sangari (2011) successfully make the observation that extent of cognitive absorption determines the frequency and duration of social media usage. However, they add that level of cognitive absorption is in turn defined by self-control and other personality factors. While multitasking skills do nothing to reduce frequency and use of social media among students, they moderate the effects of social media on students’ performance by tuning the cognitive absorption.
Junco, R. (2012) investigates the impact of Facebook being a social medium on students’ performance on academic courses. The research analyzes data from 1839 respondents studying 4 years degrees in residential institutes of northeastern USA to find trends on frequency of Facebook visits and activities, time spent on Facebook, time spent on class preparation and academic grades of the students under research. Analysis of the collected data reveals that time spent on Facebook and frequency of visiting Facebook are negatively related to students’ performance in terms of their GPA. However, there is slightly negative correlation between time spent on this widely used social medium and the time spend in studying for class. He further adds that although time spent on social media and academic performance are negatively correlated but, this relationship in real world scenarios does not seem to be a major hurdle in academic success.
Junco R. (2012) emphasizes a further investigation into the issue to find some more variables like focus and intervention that may be strongly related to academic performance. The negative correlation between Facebook usage and academic outcomes may be justified by some negative academic impacts related to certain ways students use this social medium. He observes that some specific uses of this social media are related to improved academic performance while others contribute to lower academic results.
Ul Haq & Chand (2012) investigated the usage and popularity of famous social media network (Facebook) among university students with special focus on the gender based comparison and the impact of the selected social medium on their academic performance. The two researchers evaluate the pattern and frequency of Facebook use among university students while focusing gender differences and student opinion about the impacts of this medium on academic performance. The research analyzes a random sample of 384 respondents including an equal mix of males and females. The respondents belong to undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate programs with a mean age of 21 years.
Research analysis shows that Facebook is equally popular among male and female students of the university under study. It is inferred from the research that majority of the users (61%) agree that this social medium has adverse effects on their academic performance. Further analysis reveals that among these 61%, majority of the respondents were male. In addition to adverse effects of Facebook on academic performance, there was also an opinion that use of Facebook makes it hard for them to perform the best on their career performance. However the researcher feels that the later opinion is not very clear and established and needs further investigation.
Hamat, Embi, & Hassan (2012) studied the use of social networking platforms among undergraduate and postgraduate students of Malaysian institutes of higher education. This qualitative research collected data on 6358 student respondents through a self-administered questionnaire and analyzed this data to make observations on the use of social networking sites among them. The study also collects opinion of students about the impacts of social medium on their academic performance.
One of the very significant findings of the study is about the use of social networking sites for the purpose of learning. Majority of the respondents agree that they use SNSs as informal learning tool and that it helps them connect to their friends and peers to get help regarding their studies. However, in case of interaction with teachers, an equal split of opposite opinions exist.
This study also supports the most common finding of majority of well-structured studies that use of social networking sites has no significantly negative impact on the students’ academic performance. They further state that the possibility of some other factors like social media addiction, more time on internet, chatting, cognitive absorption etc. linked with the use of internet or specifically social networking sites may cause poor academic performance.
Yang & Tang (2003) conducted a research study on forty (40) graduate students studying a course in Advance Management Information Sytems (AMIS) in a university in Taiwan to investigate the impact of using social media for educational purpose on the academic performance of the students. Students were grouped into 14 teams to discuss various questions based on MIS cases in an online forum specifically set up for the purpose. The students had to come up with summaries of the discussions made on the forum. At the end of the course, data was collected from the forty students on a self-administered questionnaires for the purpose of this particular research. The objective of the study was to find correlations among friendship, advice and adversarial factors and student academic performance.
The results of the analysis show a strong correlation between centrality in friendship factor and students’ academic performance. Friendship is psychologically associated with companionship which gives individuals a better chance of accessing support and information on problems. It can be inferred that promoting friendship among students in a controlled social media environment, can help improve students’ academic performance.
Negussie & Ketema (2014) conducted a cross-sectional survey to at Jimma University Ethiopia between March 2012 and March 2013 to find if any adverse effects of using social networking sites on students’ academic performance exist. Like many other studies, this research effort also took Facebook into consideration to establish its findings. In a cross-sectional study of 490 respondents, the research did not find any significant relationship between students’ duration and frequency of use of Facebook and their academic performance.
Negussie & Ketema (2014) further investigated if there is any impact of using Facebook while accessing through different devices. Among a variety of devices, it was found that the correlation between using Facebook on mobile devices and students grades is highly negative as compared to using Facebook on other devices. This adverse effect is explained by the fact that using cell phones for social networking activities may involve multitasking and all students are not equally efficient in multitasking skills. The study suggests, that students must be encouraged to use social networking sites for educational purposes instead of blocking these platforms in the educational premises.
Gupta (2013) research is specific to impact of social media on the performance of students in distance education. This research is more significant due to the fact that distance learning is totally dependent on social networking technologies. This study is concerned with the respondents’ psychology towards using technology for the educational purposes and identification of suitable tools and technologies to achieve academic goals and objectives. This research analyses responses of 572 students enrolled to study a postgraduate course in management. The course delivery and management is online and utilizes information and communication technologies for this purpose.
This research infers that students’ use of Facebook as social medium for academic purposes has no significant relationship with the academic performance of the students. This research further establishes that new online tools and technologies must be integrated to promote online interaction and form online social networks purposed towards educational achievements and support. Teachers’ perceptions about students’ use of Facebook book were not supportive in terms of adding any value to their academic performance as inferred by Gupta (2013).
The above literature review reveals that research on the role of social media and social networking sites in academic performance of students is still debatable. Most of the researchers have created more questions that finding answers.