Negative Effects of Social Media on Students: Literature Review

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Table of contents

  1. Negative Impact of Social Media on Students
  2. Conclusion
  3. References

Social media is becoming the integral part of our lives. It has become the major source of information and communication for the students. But it has been observed that the students spend much of their time on social media which leads to their phubbing behavior when they are with friends and family. There were founf some negative effects of social media on students, so the aim for this essay is to make a literature review about current topic to confirm or question our thesis that the use of social networks by students has more negative aspects than positive ones. The literature has been reviewed by various contexts and themes. Results revealed the gap in the existing literature which suggests more exploration in the area of social media usage in relation with social behavior.

Social media are computer based technologies that facilitates creating and sharing of information, ideas and other forms of expression via virtual networks. It is the collective online communication channel which includes micro-blogging, social networking, wikis etc. In simple words, social media is a web based tool which facilitates people to interact with each other or for sharing information and receiving the information.

Use of social media has grown tremendously in the last few years. We can’t imagine our lives without smart phones and using social media now days. Lot of things can be learnt through social media from education to information. Social media has become the major source of information or knowledge for students as well as for students. It provides a platform for learning, communication etc. and so the teaching methodology is gradually transforming towards e-learning or web based learning. Social media and Social Networking Sites facilitate students to interact with each other and to express their creativity. But it is generally observed that the students and adolescents spend most of their time on social media or social networking sites which makes a range of positive and negative impact on behavior, health and their well-being.

For content contributors, the benefits of participating in social media have gone beyond simply social sharing to building a reputation and bringing in career opportunities and monetary income. But the students, especially adolescents use social media for sharing their images, videos or chats which increases their virtual interaction but at the same time they ignore the family and friends connections in real. Extreme use of social media or networking sites like Facebook, Watsapp, Instagram etc. among the students is distracting them from their social circle and the relationships with their family. It can also be observed by phubbing behavior of the students when they are with their friends or when they are with their family. Phubbing is the action of ignoring others during social events by using smart phones. This kind of behavior is a major concern especially for the family members and the person who is being snubbed.

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Negative Impact of Social Media on Students

Various research studies found the influence of social media and social networking sites on the behavior of the students and adolescents. Use of social networking sites result into social circle declination. Studies also found that internet users tend to spend less time with friends and family. Research also shows that Generation Y seems to lose an actual social interaction, had an anxiety and feel frustrated.

Researchers have focused on the various antecedents of the phubbing behavior of the people. Findings revealed that internet addiction, fear of missing out, self-control and smart phone addiction leads to phubbing behavior. Further, aggression and lack of attention have been found to be associated with the internet addiction. Clinical reports of American Academy of Pediatrics state the benefits and risks of using social media on the children, adolescents and the families. According to this report, the benefits of social media includes socialization, communication, learning opportunities and accessing health information while the risks includes cyberbullying, online harassment, sexting, facebook depression. Studies also noted the associations of students media usage and engagement in risk behaviors like problematic alcohol use and illicit drug use.

Researchers found that the intensity of Facebook use appears to be related with personal contentment, greater trust, and participation in civic and political activities among college students. The students with high facebook engagement participates more in the university level activities but use of facebook for educational purpose decrease the student’s concentration. Some research also reported unfavorable consequences of phubbing in the romantic context, establishing smartphones as the cause of conflict, lower relationship satisfaction and reduced wellbeing. Specifically, “generation Y” respondents report negative jealousy-related emotions as a result of their partner’s latest phubbing episode, including perceived loss of attention, anger and sadness. Adolescents and college students who spend more time online disclose more information, which can distort intimate relationships. Interpersonal relationships may be susceptible to the interface of technology which may lead to interruptions in face to face conversations. Nakamura noted that gazing at the phone is a form of non-verbal behavior/ communication. It may communicate as if the person is busy or the phone user is ignoring other acquaintances. Such behavior may also give a feeling to the observer of being hold or wait. The phones users are perceived differently by different people which influences not only face to face communication but also power the relationships between participants.

Extant literature also focused on the effects of social media on learning. Participation in social media has many positive aspects in terms of learning. Some benefits from using social media networks includes sharing information and ideas but it also has negative aspects as it could negatively affect the academic performance of the students. It could further negatively influence the academic life of the students. Further the negative aspect was supported by the study of Abraham E. F., who found that excessive use of social media disrupts the lecture learning and negatively impacts their academic achievement. Study of Rebecca S., focused on the effects of ostracism and inclusion of social media on the young people’s perception. Study found that social media ostracism was perceived by students as threatening to mood while there are possible benefits of social media inclusion to the student’s behavior and their well-being. According to the study of Wilfred W.F Lau, there are potential negative impact of social media on student’s social well-being which includes cyber bullying, sense of belongingness and well-being. Ashraf J., observed various challenges and opportunities of using social networking in education. As per the study challenges include privacy, real friendship and taking away time (amount of time spent online with each other) while opportunities include flexibility, convenience and accessibility. Perceived usefulness and perceived enjoyment were found to be the important determinants of student’s intention to use social networks for learning. Students who perceive social network as useful and enjoyable have positive attitude towards using them which in turn contributes to their learning. Studies also observed there is the effect of different learning styles on the student’s intention to use social media for learning. Further it was found that there are significant effects of self on the intention to use social media for learning. For instance, students having the participatory style focus more on self than the students with collaborative style of learning. Using YouTube and mobile devices as a medium promotes ubiquitous learning. Further the habit of self-learning and revision is developed if such technology is involved in teaching. Studies also observed that use of social media applications in teaching engages the student to improve his learning performance which in turn improves their satisfaction. Some studies noted that use of phones by the students in classrooms may underestimate the effect of this behavior has on the learning process. Studies also found the adverse effects of phubbing on learning.


Social media has become a major source for learning and teaching. It has many advantages because of easy access to every type of information and that is why majority of the students use it now days for learning. But if we look to another aspect, extreme use of it distracts the person from the social interaction. Students now days are engaged with phones all the time, connecting with people online but ignoring the real connect with the people around them.

This study has been done to identify the use and effect of social media in terms of the learning and the social behavior of students. The literature has been reviewed by various contexts and themes. Results revealed the gap in the existing literature which suggests more exploration in the area of social media usage in relation with social behavior.

Social media is a perennial field of research. However, despite of vast literature in this area, the clear picture in relation with behavior is missing. Most of the studies focus on the social media in relation with the learning, challenges or opportunities etc. But the literature is oblique about the relationships of social media and behavior with the family, friends or colleagues. Thus, more studies are required to be done to identify the inconclusive findings.


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