When Dalhousie University recently asked their failing engineering students why they were having so much trouble, many of them pointed to social media, and Facebook in particular, as the culprit for their poor academic performance.
Put simply, these students need to grow up. While social media is a new and unique distraction, it’s not an insurmountable one. Facebook is a convenient scapegoat for the human inclination towards laziness and procrastination.
Social media is hard to escape if you’re a young person who hopes to maintain a robust social life. Instead of calling or texting a new friend or acquaintance, the expectation is that you’ll add each other on Facebook and take things from there. Facebook is also a great tool for common interest groups and extracurricular clubs.
Young people’s interaction with these new platforms sometimes manifests in behaviours that resemble addiction. Some will spend hours on Facebook browsing profiles or anticipating “likes” or notifications. Facebook and Twitter follow users everywhere as these sites have applications that are easily downloaded onto smartphones. However, while social media is omnipresent, it shouldn’t be held up as an insurmountable barrier to achievement.
There have always been distractions. Young people, especially those who have made the decision to go to university or college, are capable adults who have strategies at their disposal to minimize the time they spend on social media. Programs and applications can be downloaded that monitor or limit your time on Facebook. In addition, email notifications can be minimized and social media apps can be deleted off of smartphones.
Those students who cite social media as a catchall for their academic failure may not have been prepared for post-secondary education in the first place. The ability to prioritize and delay meaningless gratification is an important test of adult maturity. Now, close that Facebook tab and get to work.
— Journal Editorial Board