Today, social media and the internet are celebrated as some of the major innovations of our time. These inventions have turned the world into a global village. The platforms have illuminated the lives of thousands of individuals across the world by spreading the international knowledge across the globe and in turn making the connected users global citizens. Communication and the free sharing of thoughts among individuals have been limited in the past due to the distance, religion, as well as nationality. However, in this era, these barriers have been tactically reduced to zero, and the flow of information and knowledge have consequently increased tremendously among individuals of every generation. The new world that has been created by the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit and many other platforms have allowed free sharing of thoughts, knowledge, ideas, contributions to forums, endless instant messaging, and chat rooms, both private and public. The internet has provided a platform through which these online social media platforms have thrived. Among them, Facebook has emerged as the giant platform with a record of about 2.2 billion users and about 1.7 billion active users. Human beings being social animals who prefer remaining in groups have found a new home in the social media platforms such as Facebook and Google Plus which provides the group's options (Abu-Shanab & Al-Tarawneh, 2015). These groups are often vital to communication and sharing of ideas. Thus, these platforms, social media, and the internet have contributed significantly to the improvement of learning for the high school students through easing communication as well as the accessibility to the library of resources available online.
The access to the internet and the active users of the social networking sites is increasing day by day. Most of the new users joining the online community are the youths aged between thirteen and twenty-four years. These category of individuals are mostly students in high school. According to the recent survey by Pew Research Center, about 72 percent of the high school students are active users of the social media platforms. The high school kids spend most of their time on the social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other sites keeping in touch and sharing ideas. Most of these social media sites such as Wikipedia and other wiki platforms gives the high school students opportunities to join in the various topics of discussions and share knowledge (Abu-Shanab & Al-Tarawneh, 2015). In these platforms, the students get to meet experts and professionals from various fields who are always willing to guide and mentor them on given topics. The virtual community provided by the social media platforms and the internet gives also gives the students the freedom to explore a variety of topics they may be interested in without any restriction. They are always at liberty to interact with whoever they want as well as upload any materials they may want. The platforms have made it easier for the high school students to make new friends (El-Badawy & Hashem, 2014). The social media also gives the students the freedom to create other online identities inspired by their role models and celebrities they follow that are not allowed in the real world.
However, parents and various psychologists across the world have criticized the freedom that the internet and the social media platforms have given to the high school students. They have cited loss of morals and identity crisis as some of the major problems presented by these platforms (Abdulahi, Samadi & Gharleghi, 2014). Over time, these platforms have developed to shape various aspects of the society resulting into vices such as the identity crisis which has been considered to be venomous by the older generation and the psychologists. Professor S. S. Sunder of Penn State insinuated that the online generation is identified by their actions online as well as the information they upload on their profiles. The identity crisis has grown to be a major concern as the lives of the high school students has been majorly influenced by what is posted online (Rithika & Selvaraj, 2013). These posts majorly from the celebrities they follow have from time to time modified their habits making them give minimal concentration to the teachings of their parents as well as their professors. The online activities of these students have also brought about fluctuations in mood and self-esteem resulting into an unwanted competition among the students which may attract the attention of the public despite the fact that some may be illegal or immoral, thus, adversely affecting their performance and interaction in school (Abdulahi, Samadi & Gharleghi, 2014).
Nonetheless, parents as well as professors ought to note that times are changing. Today, there exists a radical shift in every aspect of the new generation as compared to the older generation. The students, more so those in high school, find fun making friends and following up with their friends online (El-Badawy & Hashem, 2014). Their actions have been fully facilitated with the ever dynamic technological developments in the design of the digital gadgets such as the smartphones and tables which are handheld and allows individuals to access the internet from anywhere. These devices give them the freedom to access various contents and keep up with the latest trends. Ultimately, parents must also appreciate the most important thing in the life of the students which is to learn. In the process of learning the students may develop or run into other unwanted characteristics such as fluctuations of the mood or identity crisis, but ultimately these often serve as lessons through which they develop good habits and gain knowledge in the process to become a better character morally.
Social media and internet have played some of the major important roles in the lives of high school students. The platforms have from time to time ensured that students are updated on the current trends and the basic skills required by the employers in the job market. The availability of the platforms such as the Google Scholar has also ensured the students get access to various study materials online free of charge. Technology giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have greatly supported the students through the use of their free search engines. These search engines have aided the access to the plethora of academic resources online which are essential in their academic journey.
On the other hand, the social media platforms have also been instrumental in the development of communication skills which are often basic requirements in the progression of the academic journey of these high school students (Rithika & Selvaraj, 2013). The platforms have provided various tools to aid the students in sharpening their skills. Also, today, test scores, as well as certifications, form major parts of the education systems. The Internet brings forth various free certification courses of choice and interest to these students. These sites also provide test scores with instant results which enables the students to gauge their levels of understanding on any topic learned in class.
The Internet has also made it possible for the high school students to be able to learn from anywhere any time through the available e-learning portals. These portals enable teachers to release the amazing work they may have done in the classroom to the students across the world. High school students can take advantage of this to read and go through what they may have learned in class but never grasped. These materials are also often used by these students for revision purposes (Owusu-Acheaw & Larson, 2015). Features like Facebook live, YouTube Livestream, and Twitter live videos have greatly improved the interaction between teachers and students enabling them to attend their classes from anywhere as well as save the videos to be watched later. Also, Twitter as a microblogging social media platform has a wide range of experts. Using the right hashtags, the students can find professionals and experts with the world's best knowledge.
Thus, in conclusion, the social media and internet are playing key roles in our education system systems. Despite having disadvantages, their pros have outweighed the cons. These platforms ease communication, lessons, interactions, learning, and sharing of ideas. Through the platforms, students can connect with experts who can mentor them in their desired fields. The platforms also enable the students to create learning networks groups features provided by the giant platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Abu-Shanab, E., & Al-Tarawneh, H. (2015). The influence of social networks on high school students' performance. International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies (IJWLTT), 10(2), 49-59.
Abdulahi, A., Samadi, B., & Gharleghi, B. (2014). A study on the negative effects of social networking sites such as Facebook among Asia pacific university scholars in Malaysia. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 5(10).
El-Badawy, T. A., & Hashem, Y. (2014). The impact of social media on the academic development of school students. International Journal of Business Administration, 6(1), 46.
Owusu-Acheaw, M., & Larson, A. G. (2015). Use of Social Media and Its Impact on Academic Performance of Tertiary Institution Students: A Study of Students of Koforidua Polytechnic, Ghana. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(6), 94-101.
Rithika, M., & Selvaraj, S. (2013). Impact of social media on student's academic performance. International Journal of Logistics and Supply Chain Management Perspective, 2(4), 636-640.
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