Facebook, subjective well-being, and use

There’s been a lot of hype in the media recently about a report that apparently show that using Facebook makes you miserable.  It’s making for sensational headlines, so the appeal to journalists is obvious, but what should we think about it as educators? Sad-Smiley-Face-Computer

Over the last couple of years, here at the University of Glasgow we’ve (that’s Lorna Love and Shazia Ahmed, with a tiny bit of help from me) been using Facebook groups in order to support students in the College of Science and Engineering.  We’ve spoken about this at various conferences and workshops, including a recent one  in Glasgow – a copy of the paper is here.  Our experience, albeit anecdotal and not (yet!) scientifically researched, is that Facebook groups can help to support learning and help to build “real life” relationships, as we conclude:

“In any case we have been pleased to observe that connections that began online often became real life networks.  We have witnessed students using the groups to arrange meetings for various purposes, such as forming study groups, arranging transport to the Observatory (Astronomy students) and social events.  Anecdotally we know that there are students who are more likely to instigate conversations with others in a large lecture hall if they have already interacted online. ”

We’d be interested in looking into this further, as our intuition is that subjective well-being is going to correlate to how social networks are used.  As Lorna said, there are good and bad ways of using things:

“How about comparing it with alcohol?

Sure – drinking shoplifted superlager on a park bench at 9am with a bunch of “lowlifes” is not the best thing to aspire to in life but discussing the meaning of life with a bottle of wine or celebrating success with champagne…”

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About Nomad War Machine

Philosopher, Doctor Who lover, knitter, anarchist. Gets paid for being a Learning Technologist at the University of Glasgow. I am interested in theories and models of co-operative learning, in particular the Jigsaw Classroom, and I have just started a PhD about that sort of stuff. Twitter: @NomadWarMachine
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