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Social Media a Blessing or a Curse Research Essay

Background
Social media has revolutionized communication in various ways. Individuals are able to keep in touch with their loved ones through various social media platforms. They are able to share important information and events with people they care about no matter their geographical location (Adler, Rodman and DuPré, 2014). In some social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and WeChat among others, users are able to create groups to discuss issues relevant to the group members. These are some of the ways through which the social media has enhanced communication. However, despite its numerous benefits on communication, social media has several drawbacks that seem to undermine communication. Kaplan andHaenlein (2010) argues that the social media platforms facilitate the spread of fake news due to its popularity.

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Sponcil and Gitimu (2013) opinionates that social media undermines physical or face to face communication. This is because some people in young generations such as millennials and generation X prefer digital communication to face to face communication (DeAndrea et al., 2012). Some people access the social media during important social, educational or professional meetings which further undermines face to face communication. Most college students are heavy social media users (Sponcil and Gitimu, 2013). With the social media having both benefits and draw backs in communication, it is essential to examine how social media impacts on students at personal levels.

Problem Statement and rationale for the topic
Social media platforms have become a land mark communication tools in the contemporary society. They continue to gain prominence among the old and the young alike (Sponcil and Gitimu, 2013). As aforementioned, college students are heavy users of the social media. According to Sponcil and Gitimu (2013), most college students use at least 3 different social media platforms. They access their social media accounts at least every 3 hours in a day. These revelations have led to some critics labelling the social media as a distraction to students. Sponcil and Gitimu (2013) argues that social media influences students to waste time. Kaplan andHaenlein (2010) believes that social media undermines students’ oral communication skills. This is because some students prefer to communicate through the social media as opposed to having oral conversations. In this regard, it is essential to examine the use of the social media by college students to investigate whether these claims are true. This will help in understanding the specific ways in which social media affects students in their education and social lives. Research has shown that social media can be a blessing to students if utilized effectively (Sponcil and Gitimu, 2013). It can help students to share ideas and form discussion group. To this end, examining use of social media by college students will help in developing appropriate recommendations on how social media should be used by college students.

Research Objectives
To establish how college students use the social media
To establish social media behaviors that undermine oral communication skills among college students
To highlight some of the ways in which social media can be a distraction and a waste of time for college students.
To recommend beneficial ways in which college students can use the social media

Brief literature review
Social media is a recent phenomenon that has become the new norm in the contemporary societies (Adler et al., 2014). People now use the social media for a myriad of things. Some use the social media for keeping in touch with their friends, other use it to interact with their favorite brands while others to keep up with current happening and trends. Businesses now use the social media to interact with their consumers and to market their brands and products. Schools and institutions of higher learning use the social media to keep all stakeholders informed about important matters (Waycott, Sheard, Thompson and Clerehan, 2013). These shows the numerous ways in which the social media is used to enhance communication in modern societies.

Owing to the numerous uses of the social media, DeAndrea et al. (2012) opinionates that social media can help students in several ways. It can help students to interact with others which is essential in developing social skills. It can help students to communicate to a wide range of audiences in an effective manner. It can also help students with their studies as it facilitates sharing of ideas and exchange of knowledge. However, despite the potential benefits to students, social media has not always been a blessing to student. Jacobsen and Forste (2011) reveals that several university students have engaged in self harm due to being bullied on social media. Some students have resulted to suicide after being harassed by their peers on the social media (Whittaker and Kowalski, 2015). There have been cases of students dropping out of school due to social media harassment by peers (Jacobsen and Forste, 2011). Social media can also influence negatively through exposure to obscene and radical content. For instance, some groups and individuals post violent and sexual content in their social media pages. Such content may serve as a distraction to student or encourage them to engage in undesirable behavior.

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References
Adler, R. B., Rodman, G., & DuPré, A. (2014). Understanding human communication. New York: Oxford University Press.
DeAndrea, D. C., Ellison, N. B., LaRose, R., Steinfield, C., & Fiore, A. (2012). Serious social media: On the use of social media for improving students’ adjustment to college. The Internet and higher education, 15(1), 15-23.
Jacobsen, W. C., & Forste, R. (2011). The wired generation: Academic and social outcomes of electronic media use among university students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(5), 275-280.
Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business horizons, 53(1), 59-68.
Sponcil, M., & Gitimu, P. (2013). Use of social media by college students: Relationship to communication and self-concept. Journal of Technology Research, 4, 1.
Waycott, J., Sheard, J., Thompson, C., & Clerehan, R. (2013). Making students’ work visible on the social web: A blessing or a curse?. Computers & Education, 68, 86-95.
Whittaker, E., & Kowalski, R. M. (2015). Cyberbullying via social media. Journal of School Violence, 14(1), 11-29.