Virtual Environments and “Life on Line”

What are your thoughts about virtual environments and “life on line?” Do you feel there is a correlation between life on line and academic achievement, for better or worse?

First of all, I would like to say that I enjoyed the readings especially how Pasek (2009) and Karpinski (2009) went back and forth trying to devalue each other’s research/work regarding Facebook and its effects on student’s academic performance. It is always fun to see a back and forth frenzied(?) debate over scholarly achievement and work.

I would like to start with this little anecdote(?):

When I lived in South Korea attending middle school, students were not allowed to put on make up, wear jewelry, shorten the uniform’s skirt above our knee line, have pins in our hair, and wear socks that were not white or black. The claim was that the less the students worry about their appearance the more they would focus on studying. That was not necessarily true. When there were not as much social media stuff back in the days, there were manga, video games, board games, etc. Just because Facebook emerged does not necessarily mean that students in general are spending MORE time procrastinating. I think it is more like students spend almost the same amount of time procrastinating except more and more of that time is spent on Facebook more so than anything else. What do ya’ll think?

Now, moving on to Virtual Environments and “Life on Line”…
When I first read this week’s guiding question for our blog posts, I immediately thought about the concept of ‘possible selves’ that Professor Joey Lee mentioned in Core Seminar 4000 yesterday night.

For those of you who were not as familiar as I was about the concept:

“Possible selves represent individuals’ ideas of what they might become, what they would like to become, and what they are afraid of becoming, and thus provide a conceptual link between cognition and motivation. Possible selves are the cognitive components of hopes, fears, goals, and threats, and they give the specific self-relevant form, meaning, organization, and direction to these dynamics. Possible selves are important, first, because they function as incentives for future behavior (i.e., they are selves to be approached or avoided) and second, because they provide an evaluative and interpretive context for the current view of self” (Link to article).

“Scholars have examined possible selves with regard to a host of adolescent outcomes, including academic achievement, school persistence, career expectations, self-esteem, delinquency, identity development and altruistic behaviors…Educationally, what has been learned about possible selves offers a unique and viable approach to helping adolescents learn ways to identify and work toward attainable self-goals in the academic and career domains” (Link to article).

I definitely agree that there could be a positive component about having an “alternative ego” online that represents somebody you would like to become one day. I definitely feel like people are usually going to go with an image or alternative ego that seems “better” than what we are currently in the physical world. So, if the virtual ego helps people keep dreaming and aiming higher, I am all for it. I would not know for sure but I believe once the confidence and the drive is there (because of the virtual ego), then, just maybe, eventually students’ academic performance could improve one day. I know from my experience as a teacher a lot of students have the capability to perform better academically, but more so than often they believe they simply cannot accelerate and do better because of a lack in confidence and belief in themselves.


About marialarahwang

Doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University.

2 responses to “Virtual Environments and “Life on Line””

  1. Christine says :

    I completely agree with the first part of your blog entry. I thought you had a good way of explaining the topic of whether facebook effects academic performance. I do not think it does because if people were not using facebook, they would just be finding somethign else to occupy their time with.

    As for the second part of your blog entry, I never looked at it that way. I thought having an “alternative ego” on-line was almost distracting to the real life being and that prosperity. However, the way you explained it made me see that it can actually be beneficial in the sense that people will want to strive to be these “alternative egos”.

    • marialarahwang says :

      Thanks for your comments Christine!

      I am glad I could bring a new perspective on the “alternative ego” topic. I mean, like you thought before an online “alternative ego” could be distracting as well.

      We could probably come up with some anecdotes in which people simply create an “alternative ego” but do nothing in reality to make themselves become more like the “ideal” person you want to become.

      Maybe, instead of striving to be the person you want to become you just stay as you are and live the life of your “other ego” online and only online.

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