In 2008, MU student Stacy Snyder was about to graduate with a teaching degree when she discovered that Millersville was withholding her teaching credential.
Because of a picture posted to her MySpace page. Snyder posted a picture of herself captioned with “drunken pirate,” which was discovered by school officials. Millersville claims Snyder would not have received the teaching certificate based on bad unprofessional behavior. Snyder herself said she received good marks during her student teaching.
Today’s technology, especially social media, makes it easier than ever to stay connected and up-to-date on what people are doing, but it also presents new challenges for students. Possibly the biggest issue college students have with social media is what is acceptable—and unacceptable—to post online.
“Never put anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t put on a business card and hand out to strangers,” advises Lon Safko, co-author of “The Social Media Bible.” Pictures that may seem harmless in college can hurt students later, even if the picture is deleted. The Huffington Post says that even pictures a user deletes from their social media page can still be accessed.
While Facebook has over 800 million users, not all students choose to update their statuses for everyone to see.
“As a hiring manager, I know that any information on the Internet, excluding something that is strictly professional such as a LinkedIn profile, is more likely to be detrimental than beneficial to my long-term career. Even if the content isn’t inappropriate, anything that a potential employer could disagree with, such as political or religious statements, could hurt me. Therefore, I don’t chance it,” said MU alumni Charles Hackett, who does not use any type of social media.
Human Resources personnel are using social media as a reference for potential employees. Party pictures are unimpressive to potential employers. Fox Business recommends posting about professional accomplishments or a link to a professional blog.
While Facebook and Twitter tend to be more personable, laid back social media, LinkedIn is a professional social media website. The site is an online résumé for users. Users are able to connect with those they already know and make new connections.
According to the Huffington Post, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a month on Facebook. MU undergrad Liz Stone says she uses Facebook every day: “It keeps the boredom at bay, but I’m not a junkie.”
An overwhelming majority of college students, 85 percent, have a Facebook page. A study published in Computers in Human Behavior shows that students who study or do homework with Facebook open, even minimized on the computer, receive up to 20 percent lower grades than students who work without Facebook open. The easy access to social media has become so ingrained into college students’ everyday lives that many do not even realize how much time they spend on social media. USAToday Education tells the story of a student at Wayne State University who had books and notes spread across a table but was paying more attention to Twitter.
When asked to speak to the reporter, the student replied, “I’m sorry. I would like to talk to you but I’m actually busy studying for a big exam.”
Such easy access to technology for students means easy access to distractions in class. Students frequently text, email, Facebook, and tweet during class. In an informal survey, one Harvard student found that his peers were most likely to check Facebook or e-mail when professors lectured on information already covered in the textbook, when paying attention will not help clarify questions, or when professors begin an irrelevant tangent.
The most common reason users join social media is to keep in touch with family or friends.
“It’s the greatest thing invented to keep in touch… you can find people you haven’t seen in years,” said MU student Vanessa Boyer, who uses Facebook and Instragram to keep connected with friends from far away.
Even Millersville has joined in on the social media train: you can follow Millersville on twitter @millersvilleu and like MU on Facebook.