Abstract Title

Social Media Distractions Effect Traits Differently Across Generations

Additional Funding Sources

This project was supported by College of Western Idaho.

Abstract

From classrooms to breakrooms, meetings between people have changed. Instant and unscheduled, social calls intrude virtually anywhere. In undergraduate students, Generation Z appears to be the most impacted by the demands of a digital social life. From a self-report survey of modified trait scales (i.e., subjective happiness, grit, academic entitlement, fixed mindset, and narcissism) and distractions caused by social media, this study examined the effects and relationships between traits and social media use of 1,835 students, across generations. Significant relationships were found between social media distractions and all traits. Compared to Generation X, Generation Z scored the lowest levels of subjective happiness and grit, and the highest levels of narcissism, academic entitlement, and fixed mindset. Furthermore, as students became more distracted by social media, they lost academic success traits, and gained academic frustration traits. To best prepare undergraduates for success in academia, methods for navigating digital interactions should be introduced to incoming students. Additionally, mentoring programs could connect students from different generations, potentially restoring lost traits as students work together to model their strengths in an arrangement between equals.

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Social Media Distractions Effect Traits Differently Across Generations

From classrooms to breakrooms, meetings between people have changed. Instant and unscheduled, social calls intrude virtually anywhere. In undergraduate students, Generation Z appears to be the most impacted by the demands of a digital social life. From a self-report survey of modified trait scales (i.e., subjective happiness, grit, academic entitlement, fixed mindset, and narcissism) and distractions caused by social media, this study examined the effects and relationships between traits and social media use of 1,835 students, across generations. Significant relationships were found between social media distractions and all traits. Compared to Generation X, Generation Z scored the lowest levels of subjective happiness and grit, and the highest levels of narcissism, academic entitlement, and fixed mindset. Furthermore, as students became more distracted by social media, they lost academic success traits, and gained academic frustration traits. To best prepare undergraduates for success in academia, methods for navigating digital interactions should be introduced to incoming students. Additionally, mentoring programs could connect students from different generations, potentially restoring lost traits as students work together to model their strengths in an arrangement between equals.