Last week, a Pennsylvania university decided to ban social media networks on campus for a week in an attempt to show students the prevalence social media has in their lives.
The experiment took place at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, during a weeklong focus on social media. According to National Public Radio, Provost Eric Darr said that students weren’t worked up about the ban. Darr said they were instead supportive and relieved to be free of what some considered an “obligation,” to constantly check and update their profiles.
The experiment left Richmond wondering what would happen if the same ban were to be implemented at VCU.
“I think it would be a big blow to communication at VCU,” mass communication professor Jeffrey South said. “And not just a blow to social media networking, but I find that a lot of people use social media in academic ways.”
While the Harrisburg University has yet to release any official information on whether or not grades were higher or more assignments were turned in on time, some students predicted that the ban would significantly increase students’ ability to focus.
“It would be like pandemonium,” junior radiation sciences major Teri Fuller said if the ban were to be enacted. “Most students have to update their Twitter or Facebook every 10 seconds,” said Fuller.
She also said while she didn’t think students would “go crazy,” Fuller said students wouldn’t know what to do with their time. “It would force kids to focus. Scores and homework [grades] would probably go up.”
South disagreed. “It would be like shutting down the telephone system,” South said. “A lot of people use social media to stay focused. I’m not so sure social media is a distraction.”
Students at the Pennsylvania university said that the ban helped them use their time between classes in a much more productive way. VCU’s Michelle Jiminez, a junior psychology major, agreed.
“[The ban] would be a useful experiment,” Jiminez said. She said when she goes to the library and has a hard time finding a computer, it’s because so many students are on the computers checking their Facebook pages. “So many students have to stay on campus all day and rely on the computers in the library to get work done. Don’t use university resources for leisure.”
The experiment encourages students, as well as professors, to think about the prevalence social media has in their life, and how it’s affecting them on a daily basis.
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