Is It Good to Use Social Media as an Educational Tool?

20 November, 2020
Knowing if it's good to use social media as an educational tool involves knowing both the benefits and disadvantages. We'll tell you more in the following article.

Many mothers, when they see their children using Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, begin to worry. Are they useful tools for minors or are the children wasting their time? Because it’s such a controversial and relevant question, we think it deserves some discussion. So, today, let’s answer the question: Is it good to use social media as an educational tool?

There’s no doubt that the arrival of social networks has opened up a new panorama in the world. Over the last 10 or 15 years, the way we use the internet has changed a lot thanks to these platforms.

If we associate social networks with the educational world, there’s no doubt that a new educational model is opening up. But, do we really need to include them in the classroom?

It’s a complicated subject because, on the one hand, these platforms can be powerful tools; however, they could also cause serious problems for children in cases of abuse or immoral use. In fact, they could end up being detrimental to students.

A small child using a laptop computer.

Therefore, we can conclude so far that social networks can be a fantastic complement to education, but they can never be a substitute.

Benefits of using social media as an educational tool

We can’t ignore the fact that the use of social media as an educational tool provides interesting benefits in children’s development. Therefore, it’s good to start with a list of them:

  • Peer-to-peer interaction: Allows students to collaborate more and better with each other. It also increases contact with their teachers.
  • Information search: They’re an inexhaustible source of information, just like Google-type search engines. Therefore, they become a useful tool.
  • Sharing of resources: Among teachers, among students, among teachers and students, among education professionals and parents. Sharing content and resources is very simple.
  • Generation of debates: Social networks are interesting tools for generating class discussions that can continue in forums and on the internet.
  • Deepening themed activities: They also allow for activities in the classroom to be developed so that the students can delve deeper into the topics they’ll be discussing and have access to enormous amounts of information.
  • Immediate communication: Social media platforms also favor the immediate exchange of material. Therefore, they provide active and fast communication among professionals, with parents, and with students.
  • Speed up the learning process: These networks, when we use and understand them well, speed up the learning and knowledge transfer processes.
  • Encourage research: In the same way, they’re perfect tools to encourage research and encourage students to dive deeper into the topics they discuss in class.

“Facebook was born to give people the power to share and make the world a more open and connected place.”

– Mark Zuckerberg –

Disadvantages of using social networks in education

Just as they have very positive aspects, the use of social networks as an educational tool also incorporates other rather negative or at least concerning elements.

Five preteens sitting on the couch looking at their phones.

  • Lack of protection for children: Young people are unprotected when it comes to social media. Today, unwanted situations – such as grooming and cyberbullying – arise due to these platforms and their misunderstanding by some children.
  • Dependence: It can produce a need for immediate response in students, something that we need to avoid. It’s important to encourage patience among children.
  • Distraction: Excessive use can lead to an excess of unnecessary distractions, which would have a negative effect on their academic performance.
  • Direct human relations: Direct human relations may also decrease if students spend too much time on social media.
  • Addiction: In extreme cases, social networks cause serious addiction disorders that require professional intervention.
  • Legal consensus: Today there’s no legal consensus that allows a clear framework for action on the issue of using social media as an educational tool.
  • Personal information: Moreover, social networks are public platforms that require personal information from the user – information that, in the case of minors, is particularly sensitive.

In short, it’s difficult to say wether we should use social media as an educational tool or not. While the benefits are multiple, so are the risks.

However, children are curious about these platforms and don’t take long to get into them. For this reason, having the help of a professional to act as a guide and tutor could always be positive to avoid greater problems.

 

  • Valenzuela, R. (2013). Las redes sociales y su aplicación en la Educación. Revista Digital Universitaria, 14 (4), 1-14.