Why Gen Y, Gen Z and Higher Education Must Learn Social Media

Harrisburg University, a small college located in Pennsylvania, recently put its students and faculty on social probation.

I can see why this might seem like a good idea (and had to do something similar when I was in college) but this is a dangerous lesson that doesn’t account for the good that can come from social media participation.

The study reported the following habits of students and faculty at Harrisburg:

  • About two-thirds of respondents said they used Facebook each day
  • Just 10% reported daily use of Twitter

66% of students and faculty report using Facebook – while only 10% use Twitter? This is a huge missed opportunity to teach – and learn.

Facebook may allow for richer engagement through a broader array of multimedia, but only on Twitter are you able to reach out to anyone (with an unprotected account) without the feeling of privacy invasion. In fact, recent changes to Facebook have made it even harder for business page owners to respond to user comments on their own pages.

How are professors preparing their students for networking in the real world if they don’t understand and advocate the benefits of Twitter? Twitter is not the last and final destination for all professional networking… but there’s a reason people say “Facebook is for friends you know. Twitter is for friends you want to know”.

As someone who has yet to graduate, Twitter has become my social media dashboard. I open Twitter to read the latest news in politics and entertainment. I share content with others and have meaningful conversations on a daily basis.

Opportunities abound on Twitter that are generally closed off to Facebook. Additionally, it’s so much easier to manage discussions on Twitter using tools that allow for conversation filtering.

There is no end to the benefits of Twitter – and social media, in general. It is how business is now done, and how careers are developed.

Like many other aspects of higher education leadership, there is some catching up to do in the perception of social media. And considering just one student out of five decided to do homework during the time they would normally spend using social media, I would say this is a failed mandate.

Chanelle Schneider, also known as @WriterChanelle on Twitter, runs There From Here where she often writes on the topic of adult internships and other career and life advice for Generation Y with a specific focus on non-graduates, the students who had to leave school but didn’t drop out. Chanelle writes for Examiner.com as the Washington, DC Social Media Examiner, and is the founder of the generational chat: #GenYChat on Twitter.

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