Facebook: Harmful Rather than Helpful

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You have heard it over and over. Protect your Facebook information. Don’t let an employer see anything that can hurt you. Edit those pictures. Change your personal e-mail address if it refers to “hot pants” or “the bod.”

For Cathleen Borgman, director of the Fairfield University Career Planning Center, it’s no longer just theoretical advice. In an interview with The Mirror, she lists real-life examples involving Fairfield students:

One Fairfield student landed an internship and decided to share this news on Facebook. The company found out and rescinded the offer because the student had posted this on Facebook.

Another company found controversial information on a potential employee’s page. This caused them not to extend an offer because they didn’t want a controversy attached with their company.

A third student was already employed; however, the student decided to talk about the employer on Facebook. When the company found out, it fired the student on the spot.

“You know [what your potential boss will think] if there is a picture of you doing a keg stand,” she said. But harming your job-hunting prospects is only one of the negatives associated with heavy Facebook use, according to Fairfield experts and formal academic studies. Here is a rundown on recent studies: NECESSARY?

College Academics

“I have been in the library since 6 p.m. It is now 8:30 and I have probably spent over an hour on Facebook,” said Nicole Battaglia’13. She is far from alone on this issue; an informal survey of 10 Fairfield students found nine that admitted they are absolutely distracted by the social network Facebook offers.

The American Educational Research Association surveyed 219 undergraduate and graduate students and found that GPAs of Facebook users usually ranged a full point lower than non-users, 3.0-3.5 for users opposed to 3.5-4.0 of non-users. This information came from the headline on an April 14, 2009 Time Magazine study: “What Facebook Users Share: Lower Grades.”

“The majority of students who use Facebook every day are underachieving by as much as an entire grade compared with those who shun the site,” said Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren in an article from The Sunday Times.

Dr. Michael Serazio, a communications professor at Fairfield University, draws a different conclusion.  “No, if students are screwing around on Facebook now, then they were screwing around before,” he said.

An article published in May 2009, The University Wire agreed with Leake and Warren. It argued that those who have Facebook accounts are more inclined to be distracted, which is the reason that their GPAs are lower.

‘Generation of Narcissism‘

Serazio believes that while Facebook does not cause lower GPAs, it serves as a distraction to help students procrastinate. “I have to believe there were other distractions before Facebook and there will be after, hell I’m addicted to Facebook myself!” he said.

“Facebook makes everyone a celebrity,” Serazio said. He thinks that Facebook doesn’t necessarily lower grades, but has instead created a generation of narcissism through constant updates on every average Jane/Joe’s life.

“At a college level, students are paying to be here. If they want to goof off then I can’t stop them,” said Serazio.

Tool for FU Admissions

Facebook has come into the world of college admissions as well. Students now must watch what they post and have linked to their name while applying to college.

Matthew Dempsey, Assistant Director of Admissions, explained how Facebook is now used by Fairfield Admissions, but not necessarily in a negative fashion. The office uses Facebook as a way to inform and talk to potential incoming students.

“I use it for the positive aspects, not the negative ones,” he said. “If a student has a ‘red flag’ next to their name it will show, I don’t need to search them on Facebook,” he added.

Although there are 10 different admissions counselors, Dempsey said he thinks using Facebook to search students is a waste of time; however, he does not know if any of his colleagues have ever done otherwise.

The Wall Street Journal cited a study conducted in Sept. 2008 through the  Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth about college admissions and Facebook. This study showed that 21% of colleges used social-networking sites for recruiting and gathering information.

Colleges are more inclined to search students that have “red flags” attached to their name because the school itself does not want delinquent behavior linked to its name.

This also holds true when students are on the cusp of admission. If the student is searched and a flaw is found, then the school may not send them an offer.

Conclusion

Facebook has continuously proven to be a distraction as well as a downfall for many college students. From GPAs to jobs and internships as well as college admissions, Facebook can easily hurt a student.

“I get sidetracked and I end up spending all night doing homework. Then it turns into a repeat the next day. I get zero sleep as a Facebook addict,” said Steph Reed ’13.

Facebook and social networks have proven just as harmful to society as they are entertaining. Just as Cathleen Borgman said, “this technology that is so helpful also can be the thing which shoots you down.”

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