Category Archives: Social Media

Is how we use Facebook influenced by our genes?

It was Jan De Mol who sent me this study, but while the title of the press release suggests a big effect of genes on how we use sociale media, I for myself thought it would have been even bigger.

From the press release:

Access to and engagement with online media continues to grow at an unprecedented speed, and it plays an increasingly important role in the development and experience of people across all age groups. Nonetheless, people differ substantially in their use of online media and researchers are interested in finding out why people differ so much. For instance, do genetic differences between people affect their engagement with online media?

Published in PLOS ONE, the study looked at online media use in more than 8,500 16-year-old twins from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). By comparing identical twins (who share 100 per cent of their genes) and non-identical twins (who share 50 per cent of their genes), the researchers were able to estimate the relative contribution of genes and environment on individual differences in engagement with a range of online media, including games for entertainment and education, as well as time spent on chat rooms, instant messaging platforms and Facebook.

Heritability was substantial for time spent on all types of media including entertainment (37 per cent) and educational (34 per cent) media, online gaming (39 per cent) and social networking (24 per cent). Heritability describes the degree to which differences between children — in this case their use of online media — can be attributed to inherited genetic factors, rather than the effects of their environment.

In addition, unique environmental factors accounted for nearly two-thirds of the differences between people in online media use. Unique environmental factors could include varying access to media sources within a family, such as one sibling having a personal mobile phone and the other not, or parents monitoring use of social networks more heavily for one sibling compared to the other.

Together, these findings challenge the belief that people are passively exposed to media and instead support a view that people tailor their online media use based on their own unique genetic predispositions (a concept known as gene-environment correlation).

Ziada Ayorech, first author of the study from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, said: ‘Our findings contradict popular media effects theories, which typically view the media as an external entity that has some effect — either good or bad — on ‘helpless’ consumers. Finding that DNA differences substantially influence how individuals interact with the media puts the consumer in the driver’s seat, selecting and modifying their media exposure according to their needs.’

Professor Robert Plomin, senior author from the IoPPN at King’s College London, said: ‘The key component of this gene-environment correlation is choice, such that individuals are not simply passive recipients of their environment but instead actively select their experiences and these selections are correlated with their genetic propensities.’

These results raise questions about personalised media and the extent to which social media ‘filter bubbles’ only expose us to information that supports our own point of view, while sheltering us from conflicting arguments.

However, Professor Plomin points out that individual differences would still play an integral role here: ‘Where one person may seek online media that only supports their views, another may choose to also explore conflicting viewpoints.’

Abstract of the study:

Online media use has become an increasingly important behavioral domain over the past decade. However, studies into the etiology of individual differences in media use have focused primarily on pathological use. Here, for the first time, we test the genetic influences on online media use in a UK representative sample of 16 year old twins, who were assessed on time spent on educational (N = 2,585 twin pairs) and entertainment websites (N = 2,614 twin pairs), time spent gaming online (N = 2,635 twin pairs), and Facebook use (N = 4,333 twin pairs). Heritability was substantial for all forms of online media use, ranging from 34% for educational sites to 37% for entertainment sites and 39% for gaming. Furthermore, genetics accounted for 24% of the variance in Facebook use. Our results support an active model of the environment, where young people choose their online engagements in line with their genetic propensities.

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How a selfie can make you feel happier (study)

To many people selfies are sign of the present narcissism. And pictures like this don’t help it:

But this new study does give some consolation: regularly snapping selfies with your smartphone and sharing photos with your friends can help make you a happier person.

Wait, this is the opposite of the idea that social media can make you more depressed? Well, we already saw it is a bit more complicated than that. This new study is quite interesting and has both a lot of data and a very limited amount of people involved. The latter is the weakest element of this study, imho.

From the press release:

By conducting exercises via smartphone photo technology and gauging users’ psychological and emotional states, the researchers found that the daily taking and sharing of certain types of images can positively affect people. The results of the study out of UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences were published recently in the Psychology of Well-Being.

“Our research showed that practicing exercises that can promote happiness via smartphone picture taking and sharing can lead to increased positive feelings for those who engage in it,” said lead author Yu Chen, a postdoctoral scholar in UCI’s Department of Informatics. “This is particularly useful information for returning college students to be aware of, since they face many sources of pressure.”

These stressors — financial difficulties, being away from home for the first time, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and the rigors of coursework — can negatively impact students’ academic performance and lead to depression.

“The good news is that despite their susceptibility to strain, most college students constantly carry around a mobile device, which can be used for stress relief,” Chen said. “Added to that are many applications and social media tools that make it easy to produce and send images.”

The goal of the study, she said, was to help researchers understand the effects of photo taking on well-being in three areas: self-perception, in which people manipulated positive facial expressions; self-efficacy, in which they did things to make themselves happy; and pro-social, in which people did things to make others happy.

Chen and her colleagues designed and conducted a four-week study involving 41 college students. The subjects — 28 female and 13 male — were instructed to continue their normal day-to-day activities (going to class, doing schoolwork, meeting with friends, etc.) while taking part in the research.

But first each was invited to the informatics lab for an informal interview and to fill out a general questionnaire and consent form. The scientists helped students load a survey app onto their phones to document their moods during the first “control” week of the study. Participants used a different app to take photos and record their emotional states over the following three-week “intervention” phase.

Subjects reported their moods three times a day using the smartphone apps. In evening surveys, they were asked to provide details of any significant events that may have affected their emotions during the course of the day.

The project involved three types of photos to help the researchers determine how smiling, reflecting and giving to others might impact users’ moods. The first was a selfie, to be taken daily while smiling. The second was an image of something that made the photo taker happy. The third was a picture of something the photographer believed would bring happiness to another person (which was then sent to that person). Participants were randomly assigned to take photos of one type.

Researchers collected nearly 2,900 mood measurements during the study and found that subjects in all three groups experienced increased positive moods. Some participants in the selfie group reported becoming more confident and comfortable with their smiling photos over time. The students taking photos of objects that made them happy became more reflective and appreciative. And those who took photos to make others happy became calmer and said that the connection to their friends and family helped relieve stress.

“You see a lot of reports in the media about the negative impacts of technology use, and we look very carefully at these issues here at UCI,” said senior author Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics. “But there have been expanded efforts over the past decade to study what’s become known as ‘positive computing,’ and I think this study shows that sometimes our gadgets can offer benefits to users.”

Abstract of the study:

Background
With the increasing quality of smartphone cameras, taking photos has become ubiquitous. This paper investigates how smartphone photography can be leveraged to help individuals increase their positive affect.

Methods
Applying findings from positive psychology, we designed and conducted a 4-week study with 41 participants. Participants were instructed to take one photo every day in one of the following three conditions: a selfie photo with a smiling expression, a photo of something that would make oneself happy and a photo of something that would make another person happy.

Findings
After 3 weeks, participants’ positive affect in all conditions increased. Those who took photos to make others happy became much less aroused. Qualitative results showed that those in the selfie group observed changes in their smile over time; the group taking photos to improve their own affect became more reflective and those taking photos for others found that connecting with family members and friends helped to relieve stress.

Conclusions
The findings can offer insights for designers to create systems that enhance emotional well-being.

 

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What PokemonGo could learn from education

Hypes come and go and while I do hope to remember this summer as also the summer of PokemonGo – besides the summer of terror -, it seems that this popular game is already losing a lot of its appeal. At first the servers couldn’t handle the success, but now even the biggest fans seem to get more and more disappointed. And as those users have the feeling that every single update makes the game worse, the same users have suggestions to make things better for Niantic, the company behind PokemonGo. But that will probably be in vain as a user notes on Reddit:

I see a lot of very interesting suggestions constantly popping up in this sub and it breaks my heart to think that Niantic will probably thoroughly ignore them. At least if they keep behaving like they did with us Ingress players.

As you already know, Niantic is very bad at communication as well as interacting with the fans. They follow their own agenda and don’t really give a shit about what the players really want. When they were developing Ingress, it always felt as if nobody in their team was actually playing the game seriously; for example it took them about a year to give us a simple item count in the inventory.

Oh, but wait. I recognize this. That’s called bad education. Great teachers never ignore their students. It doesn’t mean that they only do what their students want – no please -, but that they explain why if they won’t. We call this interaction and communication. Or to put it more blunt: they care about their students. And yes, I know there are still teachers around who don’t act like this, but they are seldom used as a good example for others in education. PokemonGo was used several times as a great example for education.

Maybe Yang Lui is correct when he thinks Niantic and PokemonGo is all about profit and money, and I want to add: it’s also probably all about the quick win.

Anybody surprised? Didn’t you see the stock exchange when the hype started, incorrectly booming because people thought Nintendo would make huge profits straightaway because of the game?

It’s great that it made people move (literally), but…

Education is never about the quick win. Education is not a hype.

We’ll never see or think back about a ‘summer of education’.

We are still growing in the consecutive decades of education for all.

Maybe this makes education sound a bit boring, but that’s because education is meant to last.

PokemonGo probably isn’t.

But if Niantic wants to be in it for the long run, maybe they could have a look at education…

 

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Study in Finland shows link between school burnout and excessive internet use

When I first read the title of the press release, some alarm bells started ringing. First: the concept of school burnout seemed invented, but a search proved me wrong. Still, it’s kind of a relatively “newish” concept. Secondly: internet addiction is often used as concept, but too often without a real – read clinical – diagnosis. I was correct, the study didn’t mention addiction, but is talking about excessive internet usage. The study is based on data garthered during Mind the Gap, a longitudinal research project funded by the Academy of Finland. The researchers established a link between digital addiction and school burnout in both comprehensive school and upper secondary school students. The results of the Finnish study were published in May 2016 in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

From the press release:

The findings show that via school burnout, adolescents’ excessive internet use can ultimately lead to depression. Exposure to digital addiction is most likely to happen if the adolescent loses interest in school and feels cynicism towards school.

Fostering enthusiasm for learning is paramount

The research suggests that the most critical stage for tackling the problem of digital addiction and school burnout is age 13-15. The most effective way of supporting adolescents’ mental health and preventing excessive internet use is to promote school engagement, to build up students’ motivation to learn, and to prevent school burnout.

Depressive symptoms and school burnout in late adolescence are more common among girls than boys. Boys suffer more from excessive Internet use than girls.

The study was carried out among Helsinki adolescents aged 12-14 and 16-18. The former group of early adolescents consisted of lower-school 6th graders born in 2000. The late adolescents were first-year upper secondary school students born in 1997. In all more than 3,000 Helsinki adolescents from 33 lower schools and 18 upper secondary schools took part. The Academy-funded project is the first longitudinal study exploring the reciprocal associations between excessive internet use, school engagement, school burnout and depression among adolescents. Today’s young people are described as ‘digital natives’: they are the first generation who have grown up with mobile devices and social media.

The digital transformation has two facets. On the one hand, earlier research has shown that the internet provides important and pleasurable social experiences that are useful in later studies and eventually in the workplace. The pedagogical use of digital technology can also engage and inspire young people to take an interest in science and technology. On the other hand, digital addiction can also cause burnout in adolescents and even lead to depression.

Abstract of the study:

Recent research shows an increased concern with well-being at school and potential problems associated with students’ use of socio-digital technologies, i.e., the mobile devices, computers, social media, and the Internet. Simultaneously with supporting creative social activities, socio-digital participation may also lead to compulsive and addictive behavioral patterns affecting both general and school-related mental health problems. Using two longitudinal data waves gathered among 1702 (53 % female) early (age 12–14) and 1636 (64 % female) late (age 16–18) Finnish adolescents, we examined cross-lagged paths between excessive internet use, school engagement and burnout, and depressive symptoms. Structural equation modeling revealed reciprocal cross-lagged paths between excessive internet use and school burnout among both adolescent groups: school burnout predicted later excessive internet use and excessive internet use predicted later school burnout. Reciprocal paths between school burnout and depressive symptoms were also found. Girls typically suffered more than boys from depressive symptoms and, in late adolescence, school burnout. Boys, in turn, more typically suffered from excessive internet use. These results show that, among adolescents, excessive internet use can be a cause of school burnout that can later spill over to depressive symptoms.

 

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A different kind of multitasking: kids who text and watch TV simultaneously likely to underperform at school

Multitasking is a bad idea, no really, and we know it can be bad for learning. But this new study looks at both a somewhat strange and interesting correlation: kids who text and watch TV simultaneously likely to underperform at school. And yes, I wrote correlation.

Abstract of the study:

The more time teenagers spend splitting their attention between various devices such as their phones, video games or TV, the lower their test scores in math and English tend to be. More time spent multitasking between different types of media is also associated with greater impulsivity and a poorer working memory in adolescents, says Amy S. Finn of the University of Toronto. Finn was one of the leaders of a study on the topic published in Springer’s journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

According to Finn, the term “media multitasking” describes the act of using multiple media simultaneously, such as having the television on in the background while texting on a smartphone. While it has been on the rise over the past two decades, especially among adolescents, its influence on cognition, performance at school, and personality has not been assessed before.

To do so, a Media Use Questionnaire was administered to 73 eighth grade students living in the greater Boston area. It asked them how many hours per week they spent watching television or videos, listening to music, playing video games, for reading print or electronic media, talking on the phone, using instant or text messaging, creating crafts or writing. Participants rated how often they combined these with another such activity. Aspects of their working memory, their manual dexterity and vocabulary, and their levels of grit, conscientiousness and impulsiveness were also tested. Participants were also asked whether they believed that their ability was fixed or could be improved. The researchers ascertained the 73 students’ scholastic performance by looking at their 2012 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System scores in English and math.

Overall, participants reported consuming a great deal of media, and on average watched 12 hours of television per week. They tended to multitask between mediums 25 percent of the time.

The results show how participants’ media consumption patterns outside of school are related to their performance in school tests. Teenagers who spent more time media multitasking fared significantly worse academically than others. They scored lower in certain aspects of their working memory, tended to be more impulsive and were more likely to believe that intelligence is not malleable. These results extend previous findings from adults and suggest that the relationships between cognitive abilities and media multitasking are already established by middle adolescence.

“We found a link between greater media multitasking and worse academic outcomes in adolescents. This relationship may be due to decreased executive functions and increased impulsiveness–both previously associated with both greater media multitasking and worse academic outcomes,” summarises Finn.

Improving scholastic performance isn’t just a simple matter of regulating the amount of time that teenagers spend watching television, playing video games or using their phones. “The direction of causality is difficult to establish. For example, media multitasking may be a consequence of underlying cognitive differences and not vice versa,” says Finn. Future research with larger samples may shed light on the causal link.

Abstract of the study:

Media use has been on the rise in adolescents overall, and in particular, the amount of media multitasking-multiple media consumed simultaneously, such as having a text message conversation while watching TV-has been increasing. In adults, heavy media multitasking has been linked with poorer performance on a number of laboratory measures of cognition, but no relationship has yet been established between media-multitasking behavior and real-world outcomes. Examining individual differences across a group of adolescents, we found that more frequent media multitasking in daily life was associated with poorer performance on statewide standardized achievement tests of math and English in the classroom, poorer performance on behavioral measures of executive function (working memory capacity) in the laboratory, and traits of greater impulsivity and lesser growth mindset. Greater media multitasking had a relatively circumscribed set of associations, and was not related to behavioral measures of cognitive processing speed, implicit learning, or manual dexterity, or to traits of grit and conscientiousness. Thus, individual differences in adolescent media multitasking were related to specific differences in executive function and in performance on real-world academic achievement measures: More media multitasking was associated with poorer executive function ability, worse academic achievement, and a reduced growth mindset.

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So you’re attached to your phone, what does this say about you?

8 out of 10 12-year old kids on our country has a smartphone, and Belgium is no exception. At all.  But have you noticed that some people frequently check and re-check their mobile phones. Maybe you do yourself? A new study by psychologists Henry Wilmer and Jason Chein of Temple University in the US and are published in Springer’s journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review sheds some light on why people do this: people who constantly check and use their mobile devices throughout the day may be more impatient and impulsive. Even worse: once the impulse is triggered, it may be more a question of not being able to leave the device alone than actually hoping to gain some reward from it.

Do note that students were used for this study – as often is the case – and that the sample size is relatively low.

From the press release:

A better understanding of the impact of smartphone and mobile technology usage is needed to assess the potential problems associated with heavy use. Although these electronic devices are playing an increasingly pervasive role in our daily activities, little research has been done about a possible link between usage behaviour and specific mental processes and traits. Therefore, Wilmer and Chein set out to determine if people who report heavier mobile technology use might also have different tendencies towards delaying gratification than others, or might exhibit individual differences in impulse control and in responding to rewards.

Ninety-one undergraduate students completed a battery of questionnaires and cognitive tests. They indicated how much time they spent using their phones for social media purposes, to post public status updates, and to simply check their devices. Each student’s tendency to delay gratification in favour of larger, later rewards (their so-called intertemporal preference) was also assessed. They were given hypothetical choices between a smaller sum of money offered immediately or a larger sum to be received at a later time. Participants also completed tasks that assessed their ability to control their impulses. Finally, participants’ tendencies to pursue rewarding stimuli were also assessed.

The results provide evidence that people who constantly check and use their mobile devices throughout the day are less apt to delay gratification.

“Mobile technology habits, such as frequent checking, seem to be driven most strongly by uncontrolled impulses and not by the desire to pursue rewards,” says Wilmer, who adds that the findings provide correlational evidence that increased use of portable electronic devices is associated with poor impulse control and a tendency to devalue delayed rewards.

“The findings provide important insights regarding the individual difference factors that relate to technology engagement,” adds Chein. “These findings are consistent with the common perception that frequent smartphone use goes hand in hand with impatience and impulsivity.”

Abstract of the study:

Mobile electronic devices are playing an increas- ingly pervasive role in our daily activities. Yet, there has been very little empirical research investigating how mobile technology habits might relate to individual differences in cognition and affect. The research presented in this paper pro- vides evidence that heavier investment in mobile devices is correlated with a relatively weaker tendency to delay gratifi- cation (as measured by a delay discounting task) and a greater inclination toward impulsive behavior (i.e., weaker impulse control, assessed behaviorally and through self-report) but is not related to individual differences in sensitivity to reward. Analyses further demonstrated that individual variation in im- pulse control mediates the relationship between mobile tech- nology usage and delay of gratification. Although based on correlational results, these findings lend some backing to con- cerns that increased use of portable electronic devices could have negative impacts on impulse control and the ability to appropriately valuate delayed rewards.

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Funny on Sunday: “Scamalot”, episode #1

What happens if you start replying to all those scam and spam-mails?

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What’s next for children & media research?

There is a new EU Kids report and in this report Sonia Livingstone, Giovanna Mascheroni and Elisabeth Staksrud discuss how the original EU Kids Online analytical model was constructed. They review key findings produced from qualitative and quantitative research by EU Kids Online before discussing the rationale for a revised model that reflects the findings better and raises new questions for research.

More important they than conclude that future research should examine the following 12 research priorities:

  1. Factors relating to children’s identity and resources, beyond demographic variables.
  2. New modes of access to the internet, as this becomes more mobile, personalised, pervasive.
  3. A multidimensional analysis of digital skills and literacies and their significance for well-being.
  4. A rethinking of the ‘ladder of opportunities’ to identify whether and when children undertake more ambitious creative or civic online activities.
  5. New kinds of online risks including risks to their personal data, privacy issues and online reputation management.
  6. The interplay between children’s digital practices and proprietary policies and mechanisms.
  7. Children’s desire to experiment and transgress boundaries, to grasp children’s agency online.
  8. Extending the analysis of how parents mediate their children’s internet use to the potential importance of other socialising agents.
  9. Extending research on 9-to 16-year olds to much younger children’s use of digital media.
  10. Research on sociotechnological innovations in smart/wearable/ubiquitous everyday devices.
  11. The implications of digital engagement as it may reconfigure (undermine or enhance, alter or diversify) children’s wellbeing in the long term.
  12. Relate the research agenda on children’s online access, risks and opportunities to the broader agenda of children’s rights – to provision, participation and protection – in the digital age.

You can download the file here.

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Spread the good vibe: positive emotions more contagious than negative ones on Twitter

An analysis of 3,800 randomly chosen Twitter users found that emotions spread virally through Twitter feeds — with positive emotions far more likely to spread than negative ones. Just before I read this study I was reading and lurking through some twitter-discussions and to be honest, they weren’t that friendly. But still maybe Twitter was right  in changing the star for a heart?

From the press release:

“What you tweet and share on social media outlets matters. Often, you’re not just expressing yourself — you’re influencing others,” said Emilio Ferrara, lead author of the study and a computer scientist at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute. Ferrara collaborated with Zeyao Yang of Indiana University. Their study was published by the journal PLOS One on Nov. 6.

Ferrara and Yang used an algorithm that measures the emotional value of tweets, rating them as positive, negative or neutral. They compared the sentiment of a user’s tweet to the ratio of the sentiments of all of the tweets that appeared in that user’s feed during the hour before. Higher-than-average numbers of positive tweets in the feed were associated with the production of positive tweets, and higher-than-average numbers of negative tweets were associated with the production of negative tweets.

About 20 percent of Twitter users were deemed highly susceptible to what the researchers described as “emotional contagion” — with more than half of their tweets affected. Those users were four times more likely to be affected by positive tweets than negative ones.

Those least likely to be affected by emotional contagion were still a little less than twice as likely to be affected by positive tweets as negative ones. Over all users, regardless of susceptibility, positive emotions were found to be more contagious than negative emotions. This may be relevant to plan interventions on users experiencing depression or other forms of mood disorders, Ferrara said.

The study builds on decades of research demonstrating first that emotions can be spread through person-to-person contacts, and now finding that they can spread through online interactions as well.

Facebook drew criticism last year for attempting to demonstrate a similar effect by tweaking 700,000 users’ news feeds. Unlike that experiment, Ferrara and Yang did not manipulate what Twitter users were experiencing — rather, they simply observed what was already happening and analyzed it.

Abstract of the study:

Social media are used as main discussion channels by millions of individuals every day. The content individuals produce in daily social-media-based micro-communications, and the emotions therein expressed, may impact the emotional states of others. A recent experiment performed on Facebook hypothesized that emotions spread online, even in absence of non-verbal cues typical of in-person interactions, and that individuals are more likely to adopt positive or negative emotions if these are over-expressed in their social network. Experiments of this type, however, raise ethical concerns, as they require massive-scale content manipulation with unknown consequences for the individuals therein involved. Here, we study the dynamics of emotional contagion using a random sample of Twitter users, whose activity (and the stimuli they were exposed to) was observed during a week of September 2014. Rather than manipulating content, we devise a null model that discounts some confounding factors (including the effect of emotional contagion). We measure the emotional valence of content the users are exposed to before posting their own tweets. We determine that on average a negative post follows an over-exposure to 4.34% more negative content than baseline, while positive posts occur after an average over-exposure to 4.50% more positive contents. We highlight the presence of a linear relationship between the average emotional valence of the stimuli users are exposed to, and that of the responses they produce. We also identify two different classes of individuals: highly and scarcely susceptible to emotional contagion. Highly susceptible users are significantly less inclined to adopt negative emotions than the scarcely susceptible ones, but equally likely to adopt positive emotions. In general, the likelihood of adopting positive emotions is much greater than that of negative emotions.

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Facebook as learning platform, Paul Kirschner analyses and concludes “not suited for knowledge creation”

In this article Paul Kirschner examines the quality of social network sites such as Facebook as learning platform.

He concludes:

 

  • Most SNSs – including Facebook – are more a broadcast tool than a discussion tool.
  • Groups of Facebook users (i.e., friends) tend to confirm rather than discuss and/or argue.
  • Flat-structured discussions such as what Facebook affords impede discussion and argumentation.
  • Most SNSs – including Facebook – are not well-suited for knowledge construction via discussion and argumentation.

Still, I’ve noticed that a lot of my students do use the platform as unofficial learning platform (besides the official learning platform from my institute). They have their own Facebook groups in which they discuss questions they have and share information. I deliberate write information as the few times I’ve seen such a group – most often I’m ‘not allowed’ as their teacher – I’ve seen a lot of practical information rather than in debt discussions.

The second point Paul makes isn’t my experience when looking a bit broader than students, as I’ve seen many heated debate on Facebook (and Twitter) when it comes to topics such as the present refugee crisis. But this can also differ from user to user, so I would rather conclude that the potential is there, but just like often people lurk on fora, this can also be the case on Facebook and co.

That’s why I  agree with this quote that Paul cites in the article:

According to Bullen et al., students at university appear not to recognize ‘‘the enhanced functionality of the applications they own and use’’ (p. 7.7) and that they need significant training if they are to be expected to use technology for learning and problem-solving.

 

Abstract of the study:

Facebook® and other Social Network Sites are often seen by educators as multifunctional platforms that can be used for teaching, learning and/or the facilitation of both. One such strand is making use of them as tools/platforms for using and learning through argumentation and discussion. Research on whether this ‘promise’ is actually achieved – also the research reported on in this Special Issue – does not unequivocally answer the question of whether this is a good idea. This article as one of the two closing articles of this Special Issue discusses Social Networking Sites in general and Facebook specifically with respect to how they are ‘normally’ used by their members as well as with respect to their social and technical features. Then, in light of this, it discusses the learning results of the four studies. It concludes with a short discussion of whether they are capable of meeting the promise that many think they can.

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