Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

Costs and Benefits of Facebook for Undergraduate Students

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

Costs and Benefits of Facebook for Undergraduate Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

Educational institutions and students use the Internet in general and online social networks in particular as tools to convey information. One of the communication tools used by many students in their daily life is Facebook. In recent years, Facebook has been adopted extensively for educational purposes (e.g., see Boon and Sinclair, 2009; Hendrix, Chiarella, Hasman, Murphy, & Zafron, 2009).

Facebook is an online social network initially started by a group of students at Harvard University and subsequently expanded all over the world, becoming the largest social network worldwide (Kirkpatrick, 2010). Today, it has more than 845 million active users-users who accessed the website in the past 30 days (Facebook Newsroom, 2012) and for whom using Facebook has become an integral part of their everyday life.

Facebook enables people to create profiles that comprise their personal information. Facebook users connect to other users, called "friends". Each user owns a "wall" that shows the user's updates, comments, uploaded photographs, and more. Users can exchange information using the "wall" by sending messages or by using instant chat. Furthermore, users can create online networks of friends and join groups of individuals sharing common interests, common ground, or particular themes (Mack, Behler, Roberts, & Rimland, 2007). In addition, it is possible to upload files and to correspond through personal or general messages. With all these features, Facebook allows educational institutions and students to create a central platform for media sharing, communications around social and academic issues, and drawing the community's awareness of certain subjects.

Facebook can be useful for students in their social life as well as for academic purposes, as it allows for activities such as getting assistance or sharing notes. There are also disadvantages in using Facebook, such as waste of time (Ulusu, 2010), procrastination and changing priorities (Vivian, 2011), waste of money (because of additional expenses for surfing), and even addiction (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011; Ulusu, 2010).

This research examines the perceived costs and benefits of using Facebook by undergraduate students in demanding faculties, such as students of engineering. The purpose of this study is to analyze and reveal the various costs and benefits that students have in using Facebook. This paper includes a background about previous studies in this field, the presentation of the research questions, explanation of the methodology used to examine these questions, exhibition of the results, a discussion about the significance of the results, and finally the conclusions from the research.

Background

Previous research work concerning Facebook and students was focused on themes such as emotional effects, such as jealousy and self-esteem (Gonzales & Hancock, 2011; Orr et al., 2009), social adjustment (Pempek, Yermolayeva & Calvert, 2009), addiction (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011), relationship between students and their faculty (Boogart, 2006; Hew, 2011; Madge, Meek, Wellens, & Hooley, 2009), adoption of the social media technology and daily use of Facebook (Wheeler, 2011), and main activities of students on Facebook.

The adoption of Facebook among students grows along the years. Hewitt and Forte (2006) found that 79% of the students were connected to Facebook. In 2007 the usage increased to 94% (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007); according to the results of the present study, 96% of the students who answered the questionnaire were connected to Facebook. From these statistics, it is clear that the impact of Facebook on students has increased, and therefore it is interesting to assess the costs and benefits associated with students' use of Facebook.

The time users invest on Facebook keeps increasing. Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe (2007) found that 94% of the students interrogated in their research had a Facebook account and used it on average 10-30 minutes a day. …

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