Looks like Harrisburg University in Pennsylvania is taking a page out of my book and taking a much needed break from social media this week. The university’s provost decided to block Facebook, Twitter, IM services and Skype in a social experiment to see how students would react minus their normal every day distractions.
“Normally I’d be chatting to other people in the class about how boring it was,” she said. This week, without the distractions, she has found herself taking more notes and following the tutor with greater understanding. She has been doing more homework, as in the past she often missed assignments because she was so busy messaging she didn’t hear them. And she’s also become more outgoing. “I’m a lot more social,” she said. “I talk to a lot more people, face to face, rather than sitting there typing away.”
From an educational stand point, I’m curious to see how social media will affect future generations. I recently read something that says that retention of information read on a mobile device is significantly less than that of an old fashioned book. (Sadly proving their point, I’m unable to recall where I read that information. I wish I could say I included this for the comedic value but sadly, I legitimately cannot remember where I saw this information).
I can’t remember if the argument was it created shorter attention spans or if it was inundating individuals with so much information that people were unable to process everything. But I think both are issues that we should keep an eye on in the future.
On a personal level, I’ve already seen the irony of how social media, which is intended to connect people, is actually driving them physically further apart. I’m pleased to see the university’s experiment produced an opportunity for students to interact with people face to face instead of over technology.