Owning a social media account in this era is a necessity. Whether at home or in school, students are often seen operating mobile phones, computers and Ipads to access different social media sites. Although permission for such platforms is given entirely for academic purposes, some students end up abusing this liberty.
Now stakeholders in the education sector are wondering whether social media should be monitored for better academic performance.
According to Celestine Niwemwungeri, a teacher at GS Sihinga in Gasabo, social media allows students to network with colleagues from other schools and this allows them to frequently share academic knowledge.
“Also a student a Kigali school can consult another colleague in a distant school from another country. As long as they are on the same level of understanding both will benefit,” he explains.
Niwemwungeri however notes that proper monitoring and control is needed for certain sites because students enjoy exploring new things.
“Some will want to sit everyday chatting with their colleagues. Others will browse one site after the other and these might fall on harmful sites,” warns Niwemwungeri.
Just like Niwemwungeri, Sheila Kawira, an English teacher at Mother Mary School in Kibagabaga is concerned that instead of using social media for academic consultation other students end up spending time watching movies.
“You cannot monitor mature students all the time. Many would instead live stream different movies,” she explains.
Instead, Kawira advises that for social media to be productive both parents and teachers need to monitor learners closely and guide them.
Social media improves performance
Several studies show that when used appropriately, social media sites have a positive correlation with grades in class.
A study carried out last year by McGraw-Hill Education and Hanover Research, on the impact of technology on students found that 81 percent of students use mobile devices to study, the second most popular device category behind laptops and up 40 percent year over year.
From the different types of learning technologies available, students found that adaptive learning technologies were the most effective, with 85 percent indicating a moderate or major improvement in grades as a result of social media such as watsaap, instagram and facebook.
What should be done?
Despite the deleterious effects of social media platforms on student performance, most experts suggest that for maximum impact both parents and teachers should invest time in monitoring learners.
Patrick Kwizera, a teacher at Umubano School in Kicukiro explains that since social media saves both parents and teachers the burden of explaining complex problems to learners, students should be trained on how to source for extra information from social media sites.
“There many tools on these sites which students are not aware of. They should be made to understand what to post and what needs to be shared. In the training, they can also be advised on the best sites to visit for academic knowledge,” he explains.
Kwizera also advises that some sites should be blocked to prevent students from falling victim to cyber bullies.
“Sometimes in the computer laboratories, students have a lot of exposure to free internet. Not everyone who is online is a genuine friend hence both parents and teachers have a duty to ensure that students don’t fall victim of cyber abuse,” he advises.
Also Jackyline Irabigiza a counselor and a matron at Marty’s School in Remera explains that close monitoring of media sites is necessary to deter students from addictive platforms.
“Especially for day scholars who own handsets, at times they fail to find time to read simply because they are just going through all the sites available,” she says.
Going forward, Iribagiza suggests that proper planning should be emphasized before allowing students access to social media platforms.