UROP Placement: How much is too much for Social Media?

Almost every student has a Facebook or Twitter account that is usually used to maintain and organise their personal and social lives but we want to know just how important digital literacy is.

Digital Literacy can be defined as the ability to use and understand information that is communicated through digital technology which of course includes these social media sites. Digital Literacy involves a working knowledge of technology and a good understanding of how it can be used and deployed and digitally literate people are able to communicate and work more efficiently.

Research in 2011 into the growth of Social Media showed that in the space of twenty four hours, Facebook on average had 310 million unique visitors and 95 million tweets were tweeted on Twitter.

The growth of social media since then has been colossal and these sites are no longer just being used for social means. Over the last few years, more and more employers have been using social media as a recruitment tool with around 53% of employers claiming that they have researched potential job candidates on social networking sites.

For employers, this has proven a rather successful way of narrowing down candidates for the ever competitive job market and out of the 53% of employers who had researched candidates online, 13% stated that possible employees had posted discriminatory comments whilst 9% had viewed inappropriate pictures.

Forbes magazine recently published the idea that soon an individual’s online presence will replace the standard CV and research shows that employers have caught out over a third of candidates who had lied on their CV’s just by researching the candidates on their social networking profiles.

As a student, think about your Facebook profile, your Twitter account, your blog. Would you be worried or embarrassed if a recruiter were to check one of these?

This project aims to explore the digital literacy skills, experiences and expectations of current SHES (The School of Human and Environmental Sciences) undergraduates and will look at how they use digital literacy in both academic learning and their future careers. Also, some emphasis will be given to those students who have returned from a work placement to see whether they were sufficiently prepared in their use of digital literacy.

Through this project we would like to look further into these issues. We would like to identify gaps in students’ knowledge of both digital media and in study and employability which will hopefully create opportunities for enhancing student’s digital experience within the SHES department which could then be adapted across the University of Reading.

We want to know just how much this is affecting students and whether students are aware that they may be hindering their employability through digital literacy and social networking sites. Separating your personal life from a working environment can be extremely tricky and ultimately, we want to know whether the University should provide more training or better guidelines so that students can attract future employers by using these tools to their full advantage.

If this is something that you are interested in or you think that you have some really useful information that could help us with our project then please get in contact with us!

UROP Student: Daniel Mitchell

Email: vf004731@student.reading.ac.uk

Phone: 07540291703

Supervisor: Dr. Sally Lloyd-Evans (SHES)

Email: s.lloyd-evans@reading.ac.uk

Phone: 01183787293

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