Friday, October 24, 2014

Pro/Con: Keeping Facebook for exams?

Logging out — With the often-crammed last few weeks of the semester approaching, students should consider stepping away from the social media giant. A.J. Cann, Creative Commons

Pro: Facebook gives students escape during exams.

“If you do not have the self-control to stay off of Facebook, you should not be in college,” Liberty University junior Colin Dowd said.

The problem of balancing social media and academic pressures faces every Liberty student during the final weeks of the semester. When the stress intensifies, many students are prone to drop off the social media grid. However, abandoning social media, particularly Facebook, is counterproductive.

Squeezing more productivity into a day should not require deactivating Facebook. Instead, it is time to reveal our self-control and use Facebook to enhance our academic experience.

“As college students, we should have maturity to possess self-control,” Liberty sophomore Laurin Eliot said.

We as college students need to realize it is time to start acting like adults.

Deactivating your Facebook because it becomes a distraction is a sad testament to anyone’s time-management skills. When studying awaits and assignments sit incomplete, we have the responsibility to manage our academic investment with finesse and prioritize. Defaulting to deactivation reveals an inability to control your schedule.

“The way I see it, my calling is as a student first,” Liberty graduate student Meagan Roper said.

Deciding to avoid social media for several weeks reveals a struggle with your calling: social life or GPA? Deactivating Facebook is particularly ineffective when accompanied by a status announcing your retreat and how to contact you. If the goal is isolating yourself from unnecessary distraction, why announce it to the world?

“People who publicize deactivation aren’t saving time. They do it for show,” Liberty senior Joshua Wade said.

Instead of taking drastic measures, be mature. Some students claim that Facebook is productive as a break between long periods of studying and as a way to relax your mind.

“You have to set boundaries in life. Set a stopwatch,” Liberty graduate student Christian Collins said.

Boundaries are more beneficial than deactivation, and Facebook should not be branded as only a distraction. Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne published a study in October 2011 documenting the positive effects of Internet browsing while in your workplace, particularly increased productivity. In addition to these spurts of academic inspiration, our academic responsibilities can often be fulfilled via social media as well. Facebook groups facilitate planning and organizing group projects as well as passing on last minute details on assignments to friends.

“It is encouraging to know others are working on the same assignment. Facebook is useful for collaboration,” Roper said.

The end of the semester drives students to crazy extremes — mixing Red Bull and Starbucks, memorizing more flashcards than Bible verses — finals should not involve disappearing from social networks. These are the days to put your time management skills to work, proving you can enhance your education with Facebook.

Your social life and finals can coexist with a little dose of moderation. In the end, you are only as involved as you allow yourself to be.

Con: Deactivating Facebook gets rid of temptation.

With final exams less than a month away, students are looking for ways to get rid of distractions so that they can end their semester on a good note.

One suggestion for students looking to avoid interference would be to deactivate their Facebook account for the week leading up to the exams in the beginning of December.

According to Facebook’s help section, deactivating an account will block anyone from being able to view that account’s information. There is also an option for users to stop receiving email notifications from Facebook. Deactivation is not permanent, and users are able to reactivate their account at any time.

For many, deactivating Facebook for a period of time is seen as an extreme choice of action. After all, it is just Facebook. What harm could it do?

However, researchers are looking at the possibility of excessive Facebook use as a behavioral addiction. A study led by Cecilie Andreassen that was published in the journal Psychology Reports created a system for measuring Facebook addiction called the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale.

Andreassen said that although only pathological gambling is recognized as an official behavioral addiction, other addictions such as video games or shopping addictions are considered to be “other potential behavioral addictions.”

According to Andreassen, Facebook addiction would probably be categorized as a form of Internet addiction. For students, getting rid of this addiction has many benefits.

First, it provides some accountability. If someone were to deactivate and say they would be gone for one to two weeks and then come back on in a few hours, they would look silly. By making a public choice to avoid Facebook, it puts constructive pressure on that person to stay away from the website as they intended to.

Also, while deactivation can be reversed, it takes more time than it would take to log in to Facebook. This process forces students to go through a longer ordeal requiring much more effort if they want to rejoin the Facebook world. This increase in effort can discourage some from caving in to their social media craving.

Still, many will say that deleting Facebook is just a cop out, that students need to learn to manage their time properly. They see deactivating as running away from the problem, which will helps no one in the long run. However, if someone has a distraction or temptation, staying around it all the time will only contribute to them falling back into that habit. Where is the harm in cutting out harmful temptations in life?

As with any other type of distraction, if Facebook use is cutting into study time and making it harder to do homework or prepare for exams, there is nothing wrong with temporarily removing yourself from the situation.

For students who have problems getting away from Facebook, deactivation is the best choice for exam week. While it is possible to avoid Facebook without deactivating, doing so will help the student get by easier because it makes it slightly harder to get back on Facebook, and it provides some public accountability as well.

We need to keep our increasingly-important attention span focused on our upcoming exams, not staring at a computer, waiting for a notification to pop up.

So sign off Facebook chat for a little while. Unimportant status updates will great you once you ace those exams.

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