With sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter being virtually everywhere these days, it’s hard to not want to participate or keep up with them. Yet these sites can distract students from the real reason they came to college in the first place – to get a degree – and can take a toll on grades and performance if students don’t learn to moderate their usage. There are, however, some ways to make social networking a valuable tool rather than a roadblock to college success if students learn to use it wisely.
The first and most important step is learning how to turn off your connectivity when it comes to studying. It’s easy to say, but many students are quickly distracted when they’re supposed to be studying with updates, instant messages, emails and tweets. As painful as it may be for some, it’s essential to disconnect from the web and your phone for a few hours to really get some solid work and study time in. Without this break from the outside world, projects and studying can take twice as long and be half as effective.
When you are using social networking, you can cut down on the amount of time that it takes to keep in touch with your friends by centralizing your different social sites into one place. Some choose to use RSS feeds while others will try out online tools like TweetDeck or FriendFeed. It might also be useful to use a homepage site that will let you see all your major social tools at once, every time you open your browser. While this won’t stop you from using social networking, it will make it easier to do and perhaps save you a little time in the long run.
If you are lacking in the willpower to cut yourself off from the web, there are a variety of applications that can help you. There are time tracking programs out there that will let you see just how much of your day you’re dedicating to sites on the web, a rude wake-up to many students. If that’s not enough, you can always install programs that will block your access to these sites during certain hours or after you’ve reached a certain amount of time on them.
Finally, students should remember that as fun as social networking can be, that they came to college to have real experiences and hang out with friends in person. Spending less time on the web and more time doing things that can form lifelong memories of your time in college may give students more satisfaction in the long run. If nothing else, it will give them something to talk about on their social networking sites.