From Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications VOL. 4 NO. 2
Constantly Connected: The Impact of Social Media and the Advancement in Technology on the Study Abroad Experience
The study took a critical look at the impact of the advancement in technology and social media on the study abroad experience. Advancement in technology positively impacted the study abroad experience because it is now easier for students to communicate and navigate on the go. However, social media negatively affected the experience; people wanted to remain connected to the online communities, yet their use of media device prevents them from full cultural immersion. The survey and focus group responses demonstrated that study abroaders' need for mobile Internet access (smartphones) is growing due to the constant desire to stay connected. The amount of time spent on social media depended on individual personalities.
This study was limited because of the convenience sample of the survey, which was heavily skewed to women (88%), even though it allowed the researcher to access many of her student organizations and friends in a short amount of time. The same goes for the focus group. As a result, this study should be replicated with a more balanced sample.
The survey was distributed through social media, which garnered highly active social media users as respondents. When replicating this study, researchers should use other methods to include non social media users.
To study this topic further, more research should be done to investigate the increase/decrease in the number of American study abroad students if technology were unavailable while studying abroad. Additionally, assessing how students' Internet usage and cultural immersion while abroad changes each year, may provide insight into how the advancement in technology and social media impacts their overall experience. This could be accomplished by interviewing and creating a case study following a group of current study abroad students in one country for three months and then following another group of study abroad students in the same place a year or two later. The researcher should study and analyze the students' social media activity both in their homes and on the go.
Future sojourners must be informed of the potential negative effects of overusing social media while studying abroad. With an increasing number of students choosing to complete academic courses in foreign countries, more research should be conducted on the effect of technological advancements on the study abroad experience. It is also important to conduct further research on the correlation between personality types versus social media presence. The researcher hopes that this study will lead more people to study and assess the power of social media and its ability to impact the study abroad experience.
This author is thankful to Dr. Byung Lee at Elon University for his supervision and advice, without which the article could not be published. The author also appreciates numerous reviewers who have helped revise this article.
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