Schools's worry over Facebook distraction

PUBLISHED: 08:41 09 June 2011

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SOCIAL media websites, games consoles and mobile phones could be derailing the revision plans of hundreds of students sitting exams this summer, schools have warned.

Grades might have been on the rise in recent years, but secondary schools in the Reporter area have recognised the impact that websites such as Facebook and Twitter, games consoles like X-Box and PS3 and constant text messaging are having on students’ studies.

Saffron Walden County High School identified the increasing demands that new technologies are placing on schools and parents nationally and carried out a study with over 500 of its students.

The study revealed that 58 per cent claimed that they played on their X-Box for over three hours a night, and of these 10 per cent admitted that this could interfere with homework.

Some 37 per cent said they played on their X-Box for five or more hours at the weekend. Only six per cent said that parents monitored their use of internet and games consoles.

“We have shared these facts with the parents as we know that this is likely to be a new and increasing challenge for the community,” said assistant headteacher Helen Dale.

“As part of our ongoing personal and social education, there are trained peer mentors in school for students who are concerned about misuse of electronic communication. The mentors can signpost the students to suitable support in and out of school.”

The school’s figures are reflective of a recent study of 800 teenagers in East Anglia, conducted by the Youth Sport Trust. Some 57 per cent said that Facebook was a distraction when they should be concentrating on revision, while over a third said a constant flurry of text messages distracteds them from the books.

Newport Free Grammar School assistant headteacher Mark Norman confirmed that the school was concerned but said that it was important for students to find an “appropriate balance between focused studying and relaxing”.

“While we hope that sometimes students will use Facebook and other social networking sites to swap revision strategies or check they understand homework correctly, we realise that these sites can sometimes be a distraction from homework or revision,” he said.

Mountfitchet Maths and Computing College in Stansted, though, has banned pupils from accessing Facebook in school.

Head Katherine Anderson said: “Facebook is not something we allow. While it can be a wonderful research tool and revision aid, it can be too easy a distraction for some.

“In terms of the college’s policy, we very much stick to the letter of the law. If it creates an issue outside college, we expect parents to be responsible for students using it, taking into account their age, the content and the amount of usage.”

Students, do you think that Facebook is a good revision tool or a distraction? Parents, are you concerned about your child’s use of Facebook or other technologies? E-mail your thoughts to daniel.barden@archant.co.uk

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