Teachers blame social networking for low grades

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Teachers blame social networking sites for pupil's poor grades, a study by school trips provider, JCA, has revealed.

According to the report, children who spend too much time online find it difficult to concentrate in class, tend to be distracted or have shorter attention spans.

The quality of homework is also affected by students' willingness to spend their evenings on Facebook and Twitter instead of studying.

Teachers are also concerned by the increase in the number of children using text-speak or social networking chat instead of English grammar. 58 per cent of teachers believe mobile phones and computers are responsible for children being unable to spell as well as previous generations, and 54 per cent say children can't write as well as they should because they are more used to keyboards and touch pads.

The findings emerged in a study of 500 teachers conducted by JCA.

A spokeswoman for JCA Janie Burt said: "This research clearly demonstrates that students up and down the country are spending more and more time using social media.

"Rather than relying on life experiences, educational travel and face to face interaction with others, children are becoming obsessed with social networking and this is shaping their attitudes instead.

"And as the teachers spell out, it is this obsession which has a direct impact on the future of our children - affecting their grades because they fail to complete their homework on time or to the standard required, and being unable to concentrate in class."

The report shows a quarter of teachers think the children with the poorest grades at school are the ones who use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and My Space the most.

Half the teachers polled believe this fixation is affecting the children's ability to concentrate in class, and two thirds say the quality of children's homework is poor as they rush to finish it so they can communicate with others online.

73 per cent of teachers believe parents should take responsibility and limit the amount of time their child is spending online.

Educational Psychologist Kairen Cullen, CPsychol. AFBPsS said: "It's a complex subject. Drawing on the basis of my clinical practice working with lots of children and young people, in this day and age it is inevitable that children will want to access and make sense of social networking.

"They enjoy using this tool but there is a danger that these virtual interactions filter out problematic or emotional issues, which in real life, support social and emotional development.

"Social networking has become so much the norm, for adults and children alike, that non-participation can result in feeling excluded or even socially ostracised.

"The time invested in social media versus real life interpersonal interaction can detract from that available for real human contact and contribute to delayed and/or distorted social and emotional development."

It is also claimed that children who are online at every available opportunity are less willing to communicate with adults.

Kairen Cullen said: "What is clear to all adults involved in the business of supporting children's learning and development, is that children's all round development, including emotional and social development, happens over time, requires a range of relevant, meaningful and engaging activities and lots of opportunities to interact directly with other children and adults at school and at home."

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