Social networking has become an ever-present reality. People are using social networking sites more than ever and educators see this as an opportunity to enhance the learning environment for their pupils. In the study, Buzzeto-More (2012) finds that the use of social networking sites in the coursework increased the student’s engagement in the learning process as well as created an environment where students felt free to collaborate.
In the paper, the author also warns of potential downsides to having such a technologically active student including: disengagement from the real world, becoming to attached and dependent on the technology, and most concerning cyber bullying.
I feel fortunate to have witnessed first hand the birth and rise of Facebook and other social networks. While studying at the University of San Francisco, Facebook was launched as an exclusive site for college students from around the country. Over time I have seen the site grow to monumental importance for our society, as well as the start of a number of other sites that affect our daily lives. I myself have enjoyed the amount of information at my disposal due to these sites, but I have also set boundaries in regards to frequency of visiting these sites. When I really became engaged with the power of social media, I found hours and even days were consumed by searching for more information. I found this to be counterproductive because although I did find information, checking every five minutes rarely resulted in new information and often resulted in failing to complete other tasks. Recently, I have found a better balance between information sharing/ searching and all the other tasks to be completed in order to live a productive life.
In regards to my students (players), I have seen the social networking trend influence the team dynamic tremendously over the years. With the introduction of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, teammates who may live 30 miles from each other are still able to connect on a daily basis. In most cases this has a positive effect on the team because in my experience players who feel more interconnected on a personal level, often work better as a team. I have personally witnessed this with my under-13 girls soccer team. They are very active on Instagram, tag the entire team in almost every post and share photos of themselves and teammates playing soccer and hanging out at tournaments. This team has really gelled and social networking has allowed this to happen since almost none of the girls go to the same school or even live in the same city. However, it is important to understand that this phenomenon can potentially result in a negative impact on team and player morale as well. If cyber bullying occurs, it can have lasting effects on a child’s personal growth and self-esteem. It is important that coaches and parents are actively aware of their player’s activity on social networking sites so that these situations are eliminated. I have yet to experience an incident where this has taken place with one of my teams but I am fully aware that at some point it may happen. I believe that I can learn more about the topic of cyber bullying and research strategies to limit possible occurrences. As coaches, we focus so much on teaching the sport and developing responsible human beings for the real world that we forget the cyber-community is a whole different world. Typing from behind a screen somehow gives people the sense that they can say anything, without repercussions. This is a specific subject that should be clearly outlined and discussed by all coach.
If you happen to have any insights or resources that can help me improve in this area, I would very much appreciate it.
Thank you for reading.