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International Conference on Internet Studies, September 8-10, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES ON STUDENTSACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN MALAYSIA

Adam Mahamat Helou Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Malaysia

Nor Zairah Ab.Rahim Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Malaysia nzairah@utm.my

ABSTRACT

Social networking sites (SNS) have created a new social dimension where individuals can develop increased levels of their social awareness by keeping in touch with old friends, making new friends, dispense new data or product, and getting information in many more aspects of everyday lives, making one to become more knowledgeable which is very beneficial especially for students. The purpose of this research is to obtain students perceptions on how their use of social networking sites influence their academic performance. A preliminary survey was conducted to a group of student from a Malaysian university to gather initial findings on their use of social networking sites and the influence towards their academic performance. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software was used in analyzing the data collected. Findings from this study confirm that majority of the respondents agreed that social networking sites have a positive impact on their academic performance.

Keywords: Social Networking Sites, Academic performance, Malaysia.

1. INTRODUCTION

The Internet is more than just a means of seeking information. People discovered that the Internet could be used to connect with other people, whether for business or commercial purpose, make new friends, reawaken old friends and long lost relatives. The emergence of social networking sites (SNSs) simplify the whole process as majority of them are free to use, they are easier to use and navigate, because it does not require advanced knowledge and experience of the internet and are made up of a wide array of different formats and topics; this means that just about anyone can connect. Currently, there are hundreds of SNSs that can draw millions of people, with diverse technological affordances. Nearly all sites enable persons to avail pre-existing connections and initiate friendships between strangers. With a rush in the number of people who use or have access to the Internet, SNSs are a must for the Internet community to stay in touch with each other. There are SNSs that have a specific focus. This focus may be on a particular

religion, political following, or hobby. Most specialized SNSs restrict the individuals that can take part in their network; thus, making your experience more pleasurable [10]. While nearly all SNSs center on rising broadly and exponentially, these restricted SNSs clearly seek limited audiences and some like little world with beautiful people and deliberately confining access to come out carefully and selected. With such extensive acceptance, it is no surprise that social networks have impacted the way people live and socialize [7].

SNSs are also being used by teachers and students especially in the West as a communication tool. Professors and teachers use forums and groups to extend classroom deliberations. Some of them usually use Twitter to communicate announcements and information to their students. It is a bi-directional process as students too are using these mediums to share comments to their teachers [7]. Nearly all SNSs are often designed to include certain type of community for instance the college community being emulated by Facebook.com or a music/party community emulated by MySpace.com. This study is aimed to answer these questions; what are the reasons students engage in the use of SNSs? And how does the use of SNSs impact on students‟ academic performance?

2. LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Social Networking Sites (SNSs)

SNSs have been defined as web based services that enable individuals to construct a semi-profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share connections and views” [2]. Another given definition of SNSs is it is an online community of Internet users who want to communicate with other users about areas of mutual interest” [13]. The term "social network site” is usually used to describe this phenomenon and "social networking sites" also appears in public discourse, and both are often used interchangeably. While the term "networking" emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers [2] which is one of the main activities in the course of SNSs usage. Harnessing properly the opportunities that are bound through this networks tend to help the students lots in a positive manner and can also be channeled into helping others. Examples of SNSs include; Twitter, Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Orkut and many others.

2.2 Examples of SNSs

Twitter began as an experiment in 2006 with very simple service that is rapidly becoming one of the most talked-about social networking service providers. Twitter is a real-time communication platform. It allows users to create an account, post and receive messages to a network of contacts, as opposed to send bulk email messages. Users also can build their network of contacts, and invite others to receive Tweets, and can also follow other members' posts. Twitter makes it easy to opt into or out of networks. In addition, users can choose to stop following a specific person‟s feed [12].

Friendster.com as a social networking site began its activities in the year 2002 as a social complement to Ryze and a competitor to the Match.com two other earlier established SNSs [3]. It allows users to contact with others, maintain those contacts, and share online

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content and media with those contacts. Friendster.com is also used for dating and discovering new events, bands and hobbies. Users may share videos, photos, messages and using their profile and their network to comments on each other.

MySpace was launched in 2003. The users can create profile, list school friends in which they attend, upload photos and develop a calendar. Additionally, it intends bringing various users together for personal and professional interaction. This network distinguished itself by frequently creating new ideas as clients continue to ask for innovative introduction and became the most talk about in the United States in June 2006

[2].

Today, Facebook is one of the most popular SNSs for students and even the general public. It was developed by sophomore Mark Zuckerberg of Harvard University in 2004. The site was originally developed for college and university students as a way to attach with one another. Users spend about 20 minutes a day on the site and two-thirds of users log in at least once a day [5]. In the year 2010 Facebook has more than 500 million active users, attracted 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views in its first four hours online [5].

Orkut.com was designed by a key staff of Google and allows Google to take charge of its administration, it was however, named after him; Orkut Buyukkokten. The essentials of this novel innovation are to allow members interact with new acquaintances while still maintaining their offline dealings. It does go further by authorizing the adoption of easy- to-set-up forum of members. From year 2006, Orkut has permitted its members to develop accounts without been invited. In Brazil, this is the most popular website, even more popular than Google Brazil. Although, at the global ranking Google is the seventh in position whereas in Brazil it is trailing behind Orkut [14].

2.2 StudentsUse of SNSs

The majority of users of the SNSs are youngsters who were named „Digital Natives‟ [9] especially the most common are students in higher education. They often use SNSs to stay in touch with their offline friends or bolster existing connections rather than developing new affairs [4]. That exposed a significant message that the SNSs could be a possible medium to gain more recognition of online learning than conventional e-learning platform if the elaborately designed activities can be closely integrated into the features of SNSs. SNSs allow students to express themselves, communicate, and collect profiles that highlight their talents and experiences. Researchers have fast realized the need to incorporate this into the educational faculties as a resource to support the educational communications between students and faculties, even though institutions of higher learning have tried preventing students from accessing technologies which is of less importance to their academic benefit [11]. Therefore educational institutions should think to evolve methodologies that imbibe SNSs for educational purposes. Because it will enhance an atmosphere to motivate students communications as it relates to their studies. Depending on the category of SNSs been thought of, the idea has a lot of positive attributes and will encourage higher acceptance rates among students. An email is a familiar technology that lecturers already adopt in exchanging educational messages between them and students. However, the proposed use is a familiar communication tool.

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What is left is for management to engage in a well thought out strategy to inculcate this technology as an official way of communicating with students and faculties. However, SNSs technology is similar to webmail communication technology.

2.3 SNSs and Academic Performance

Academic performance is defined as”…how students deal with their studies and how they cope with or accomplish different tasks given to them by their teachers” [6]. It was indicated that friendship networks often necessitates access to information and knowledge directly and indirectly, and the friendship network effect on student academic

performance has been confirmed [1]. Involvement of a student in these forms of activities such as making friends on social networks should be seen as a way of having access to up

to date information that is relevant and can be channeled towards improving his academic

performance. It depends on the ability and willingness of the concerned individual to be

able to harness that opportunity to cope with academic related stress [6]. Friendship networks often necessitate access to information and knowledge directly and indirectly, and the friendship network effect on student academic performance has been confirmed

[1]. Harnessing properly the opportunities that are bound through this networks tend to help the students lots in a positive manner and can also be channeled into helping others.

A

student who records a high ingenuity on social networks has the tendency to make lots

of

friends online and also may translate same to his normal daily academic life.

3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

A set of preliminary questionnaires which consist of 31 questions were randomly distributed to 30 undergraduate and postgraduate students of the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. The questionnaires were distributed randomly in the computer library during the academic hours. This particular university was chosen because of its strategic importance as a world class research university in the country and it is the second best university in Malaysia. The university wide range of specialized courses and subjects at the professional diploma, undergraduate and post graduate levels, large number of

students population which comprises of international students from across continent such

as Africa(Nigeria, Chad, Somalia), Asia (Indonesia, Singapore, China), Middle East(Iran,

Iraq, Yemen) and many other countries with diverse range of culture and religion which could reflect the diversity of SNSs users. However, as indicated earlier this is just a preliminary round of the questionnaire to test the instrument and also to gather initial

findings of the study. The actual set of questionnaires will be distributed to other institute

of higher learning in Malaysia. The questionnaire was divided into two broad sections (A

and B) which are aimed at answering the two research questions; what are the reasons students engage in the use of SNSs? And how does the use of SNSs impact on students‟ academic performance? Questions in the survey were adapted from the literature review and previous surveys [6, 8, 14]. The questions also elicited perceptual responses and certain specific responses which can be useful to add specificity to the findings. After the data were collected, SPSS 16 Software was use for the analysis.

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4. FINDINGS

The questionnaire starts with demographic questions such as age, gender, academic level and nationality. The responses showed that 37% of those who participated were male while 63% were female. 43% of them were undergraduate respondents and 57% were postgraduate respondents. The higher percentage of graduate students is not surprising because the sample institution chosen is a research university which boasts of a large number of postgraduate students. It was found that majority of students who immersed in online study were graduate students, hence we can also conclude that they are more academically focused than the youthful under graduates. Age group of those who participated in the survey are from; 16-21years old (43%), 22-27 old (27%), 28 years old and above (30%).

old (43%), 22-27 old (27%), 28 years old and above (30%). Figure 1: Students‟ use of

Figure 1: Students‟ use of SNSs Figure1 indicates the reasons the student use SNSs. Majority of the respondents use SNSs for making friends and chatting with each having a percentage of 21%. Respondents also use SNSs for receiving and sending messages (17%). 8% use SNSs for playing games and 7% use SNSs to share files. Total 26% of the respondents indicated that they do use SNSs for academic purposes like communicating with their supervisors and lecturers, conducting academic related discussions, which is less than the time they spend on other activities unrelated to academics.

Table 2 and Table 3 show the analysis on the average response on a 5-point scale to questions on the negative and positive impact of SNSs to student‟s academic performance.

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Table 2: Negative impacts of SNSs on student‟s academic performance

No

Questions

Mean

1

These networking sites influence my academic performance negatively, because they distract me from my studies.

2.73

2

Using SNSs require spending money and are wastage of time and by this way it will affect my academic life.

2.67

3

Addiction to SNSs is problematic issue that affects my academic life.

3.00

4

find it hard concentrating on study knowing that I can play online games and visit these sites just by logging into them.

I

2.93

5

I

compare my grades before I become engaged into these SNSs and

2.40

after I became involved. I see a drop in my academic performance.

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SNSs are personal/ social-can‟t be used for education.

2.40

 

Table 3: Positive impacts of SNSs on students‟ academic performance

No

The Question

Mean

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The usage of SNSs is useful in higher educational institutions, because they are an effective communication application.

3.40

8

Group discussions can be arranged with my classmates using SNSs.

3.70

9

An appointment can be fixed with my lecturer through SNSs.

3.20

10

Social networking site is helpful in my studies because I can receive announcements from lecturers and faculty.

3.30

11

The SNSs help in my studies because I can discuss with friends.

my assignments

3.40

12

Using SNSs improves my interaction with classmates and lecturers

3.30

13

I

use SNSs to facilitate academic activities and coordinate with

3.20

friends

In general, responses on the negative impacts of SNSs to student academic performance have lower means which range from 2.40 to 3.00. There were no significant differences in the students‟ grades, before and after their involvement with SNSs and they also believe the SNSs are not only for personal use but also suitable for education where both of this items only show mean of 2.40. The highest mean for the negative impacts is on addiction of SNSs which affect their academic life (3.00). Responses on the positive impacts of SNSs to student academic performance have higher means which range from 3.20 to 3.70 for all the questions. Majority of the respondents clearly indicated that SNSs can be used to discuss assignments (3.40), group discussions (3.70) and also to improve interaction between lecturers and classmates (3.30).

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5. DISCUSSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the findings of this survey, the two research questions highlighted earlier are answered. Most of the students are engage in the use of SNSs mainly for socializing activities rather than for academic purpose. However, most of the respondents do feel that the SNSs have more positive impact on their academic performance. This is due to the fact that the SNSs can be used for various academic activities such as communicating with the faculty and university authority, communicating with lecturers and supervisors, making academic discussions with classmates and chatting with friends in respect to topics of educational interest. While the negative impacts of the the SNSs towards their academic performance are considerably low.

Therefore, based on the positive preliminary findings of this study, the universities and other institutions of higher learning could take the advantage of the popularity and positive impacts of the SNSs use to formally incorporate the use of SNSs in the teaching and learning processes. Government regulatory agencies which are responsible to monitor internet activities such as the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in Malaysia and Ministry of Higher Education could also benefit from findings from this kind of study to outline or improve any existing guidelines on internet usage in general or particularly focusing on SNSs use for students. These guidelines would not only be useful for students but also parents and guardians in assisting them in monitoring or providing appropriate advice to their children when using the SNSs.

However, as indicated earlier, this is just a preliminary phase of the study. The actual data collection with the improved version of the survey in the later phase to the larger sample of the population for the study should be able to reflect a more accurate and significant findings of the phenomenon.

6. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This paper is funded by Research University Grant of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (Project No. is QJ13000.7128.03J32).

7. REFERENCES

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