Pakistan Journal of Distance & Online Learning
Volume: III, Issue: I, 2017
Use of Social Media among University Students:
Leisure or Learning
Fayyaz Ahmad Faize
Fazal ur Rahman
Muhammad Athar Hussain
The use of social media, particularly Facebook has grown tremendously
popular and is increasing fast with every coming day. Most of the users
happen to be students of higher education institutions, so it is pertinent to
explore the nature of its use by university students, the harms associated
with it and the issue of Facebook for spreading religious posts. The
sample for the study comprised of university students purposively
selected from a large public sector university in Islamabad. The data was
collected through an open-ended questionnaire properly validated and
pilot tested. It was found that Facebook is mainly used for keeping
contact with friends, sharing information, as a source of entertainment
and leisure activity. However, its use as an online learning resource was
found very rare among the university students. The students identified
various harms of using Facebook including personal, social and moral
effect. We found diverse reactions of students regarding Islamic posts on
Facebook, the concerns associated with these posts and how the abuse of
Islamic posts can be prevented.
Keywords: Social media, Facebook trend, online leisure, online learning.
Head Department of Humanities, COMSATS, Islamabad Campus,
Associate Professor, ECE & ETED, Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad.
Assistant Professor, ECE & ETED, Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad.
Fayyaz Ahmad Faize, Fazal ur Rahman, Muhammad Athar Hussain 52
It was in year 2004 when Facebook was launched as a social website
free for all users. The main purpose behind the launching was to help
people share information and to connect with others. Soon, Social
Networking Websites (SNW) became very popular among its users
(Selwyn, 2009; Sobaih, Moustafa, Ghandforoush, & Khan, 2016). Some
of popular of these include Myspace , Friendster and Face book
(Initiative, 2006). Majority of the users of these websites are students.
Interestingly, Facebook users has crossed the figure of one billion at
present (Sagioglou & Greitemeyer, 2014).
The SNW are used for various purposes. The individuals use these
websites for interacting with one another and for sharing personal
information (Hew & Cheung, 2012). However, some people also use it
for sharing their experiences and for building relationships (Jiao, Gao, &
Yang, 2015).
Facebook provides a good opportunity for interacting and
communicating with friends. The search features and suggest friends also
help in finding out past friends of schools and colleges and thus provides
a way for sharing information, pictures, videos and discussions (Hajli &
Lin, 2014; Liu, 2010).
However, there is a question that whether there is any education use
of Facebook besides source of entertainment and a leisure tool. There
are studies that advocated that Facebook can be used for educational
purposes by both students as well teachers (Hew & Cheung, 2012).
However, the use of Facebook can greatly help students in their learning
(Munoz & Towner, 2009). Moreover, teachers can use Facebook for
making connection with foreign universities and possible research
collaboration. Such interaction also provides opportunity for mutual
sharing of ideas, discussion and exchange of updated information
(Sobaih et al., 2016).
Facebook can also be used by students and teachers collectively. The
teachers can use it for information dissemination such as lecture
scheduling, uploading of lecture notes, PowerPoint presentation, pasting
links of related information and students’ assignment (Sobaih &
Moustafa, 2016).
Nevertheless, there are also some security concerns associated with
the use of Facebook. One reason for this is that the students do not
restrict their profile visibility as the majority users allow the default
setting which is set to open access (Kolek & Saunders, 2008). Such
Use of Social Media among University Students: Leisure or Learning 53
vulnerability of personal information may pose various kinds of threat to
the Facebook users in the longer run.
A recent trend that has evolved at present is the use of Facebook in
sharing and spreading religious information. There are hundreds of posts
related to religion that are shared, commented and liked by thousands of
Facebook users. Due to limitation of time and resources, this study
would only focus on post related to Islam. It has been observed that the
frequency of post related to Islam have increased on Facebook. This
include sharing messages related to Islam, Quranic verses, hadiths of the
Holy Prophet (PBUH), pictures of sacred places of Muslims, names of
Allah, graves of pious people and Sufis etc. Thus, social media is
accounting for spreading Islamic teachings worldwide called ‘dawah’
(Qayyum & Mahmood, 2015). Sharing and spreading Islamic messages
and posts is not objectionable however, there are various issues and
concerns link with these posts and messages. One problem is the issue of
authenticity and verifiability of these posts. It is not difficult to post
messages and comments on Facebook that will aim at degrading Islam
by misrepresenting and misquoting information. The recent problem of
objectionable remarks and posts on social media is one evidence of using
social media for defaming Islam (Hashim, 2017). It happens that
sometimes the users are forwarding posts related to Islam which are not
authentic and thus corrupts the beliefs of our youth who can readily fell a
prey to these kinds of ambiguous posts. Thus, it is imperative to explore
the use of Facebook related to Islamic posts in universities and its
educating role and influence on our students. This research will help in
identifying the students’ choices while using Facebook and the harms
associated with it.
Objectives of the Study
1. To explore the purpose of using Facebook by university students
2. To identify the harms associated with the use of Facebook
3. To explore the students’ reaction to Islamic posts on social media
and preventing its abuse
This study is descriptive in nature and a survey type design. The
population of the study comprised of university students of
undergraduate level. The sample for the study was taken from a large
public sector university in the federal capital, Islamabad. The sample was
purposively selected as comprising of students who were active user of
Fayyaz Ahmad Faize, Fazal ur Rahman, Muhammad Athar Hussain 54
Facebook as we limited SNW to Facebook only. The criteria for ‘active
user’ was students who would use Facebook on daily basis for at least
one hour and having more than 200 friends on Facebook. The original
sample consisted of 650 students, but only 395 students fulfill the criteria
of active user. The data was collected through an open-ended
questionnaire designed after proper literature review. The instrument was
properly validated through three experts and then pilot tested with a
small sample. The instrument was further refined and improved from the
findings of pilot testing. The data from the students were collected in
their classrooms to reach maximum number of students. The
questionnaires not fulfilling the criteria were later removed from data
analysis. The data from each questionnaire was first read and the
responses were underlined. This helped in identifying different themes
from the questionnaire. Themes that were linked were merged together to
narrow down the number of themes. After identifying the main themes,
the frequency for each theme was counted and then converted into
percentages for interpreting results.
Results and Discussion
The data from the open-ended questionnaire was tabulated for
greater understanding of the students’ response. The students were
guided to elaborate further their response if they feel so. The elaboration
provided by students is also mentioned with relevant themes in the
Table 1
Purpose of using social media
Interacting with friends/relatives
Sharing information
Time pass
Online learning and education
Use of Social Media among University Students: Leisure or Learning 55
The responses of students revealed that they use Facebook for
several purposes. We found that the main purpose of using Facebook was
to interact with friends and relatives (74.4%). This is also supported by
Hew and Cheung (2012) that students use Facebook for keeping in touch
with their friends and to find their lost friends. Tosun (2012) also found
similar result and he called it ‘long distance friendship’. Majority of
students viewed that they use Facebook for sharing information (64.1%).
The students specified that they share their pics, views, thought and to
get updated news on Facebook. Thus, it is a source of keeping oneself
updated as the news spread very easily across social media. It was also
interesting to find that 53.8% students said that they use Facebook only
as a time pass. 46.2% students expressed that they use social media for
entertainment just like TV. Facebook provides all sorts of entertainment
like news, information, music, pictures, movies etc. and thus one can
easily find one’s entertainment on Facebook. This is also backed by
Tosun (2012) that entertainment is a basic motive for using Facebook
account. Unfortunately, the smallest proportion of students expressed
that they use Facebook for online learning and education purpose
(35.9%). However, Hew and Cheung (2012) discovered no students
using Facebook for education purpose in their sample with Singapore.
Similar results was also reported by Mazer, Murphy, and Simond (2009).
The students who reported of using Facebook for leaning specified that
they use it for doing assignment, sharing classwork, coordinating with
their class fellows on projects and getting feedback on their work. Sobaih
and Moustafa (2016) also reported similar education use of Facebook.
According to Liburd and Christensen (2013), social media has a great use
in promoting learning through interaction and collaboration, but we did
not find such active use in our sample students.
Table 2
Harms of Facebook perceived by students
Time wastage
Privacy violation
Bad for children
Health problem
Effect on social relations
Problem of authenticity
Fayyaz Ahmad Faize, Fazal ur Rahman, Muhammad Athar Hussain 56
In order to explore whether students perceive any harms associated
with using Facebook, we found that majority students expressed wastage
of time as negative effect of using Facebook (56.4%). The students
identified they have less time for studies as Facebook take too much of
their time. These students also said that Facebook distracts them from
work and even their sleep is affected due to spending time on Facebook.
This was also reported by Sagioglou and Greitemeyer (2014). We
observed that the frequency of students was less in identifying other
harms of using social media. 35.9% students viewed that the privacy
issue is a risk which involves sharing of pic over the web, tagging,
blaming others publicly, using one’s bio date for blackmailing etc.
Similar findings is also supported by Au and Lam (2015). Some students
expressed health issue with using Facebook such as vision impairment
and weight increase (17.9%). However, this problem may be linked with
using any electronic device. 12.8% students opined that use of Facebook
also affect social relations such as less time for family members and
mistrust in family relations. Perhaps, this should be the main harm of
using social media but in our sample, it was not reported by a small
percentage of students. 10.3% students viewed that Facebook creates
laziness and procrastination. Pennington (2009) also supported
procrastination and distraction as the main motive for using Facebook. In
fact, Sagioglou and Greitemeyer (2014) found that the Facebook has little
utility and the users have depressed mode after using it as they think they
wasted their time. While, only 7.7% students viewed problem of authenticity
of information as which may not be authentic and thus the users can be
misguided by false information. This is also supported by Qayyum and
Mahmood (2015) that information related to Islam has a complicated nature
and thus cannot be relied upon when found on social media.
Table 3
Reactions of students on Islamic Post
Students’ Response
Like to see them
Don’t like to see them on social media
Just read
Share if it is accurate
The responses of students were sought on increasing Islamic posts on
Facebook. The low level of response rate by students showed the lack of
interest on religion. 28.2% students expressed that they like to see
Use of Social Media among University Students: Leisure or Learning 57
Islamic posts on Facebook. The students specified that they appreciate
pictures of sacred places and religious posts. In contrast, 17.9% students
completely objected on Islamic post being shared on Facebook. These
students said that Facebook is an entertainment platform and thus it is not
appropriate to post Islamic information as it is disgraceful. Facebook is
for entertainment and not for education as found by Hew and Cheung
(2002). Some students remarked that posting Islamic information
amounts to emotional blackmailing and thus should be avoided. 15.4%
students stated that they just read such information however, they do not
share it with others. The same percentage of students expressed that they
neglect Islamic posts on Facebook and even do not read them. Lastly,
only 10.3% students expressed that they read and share Islamic posts if
they appear accurate to them. However, how will they determine that the
post is authentic? Indeed, it is very difficult for students to determine and
thus many posts are shared that are fake and/or aimed at corrupting
Muslim’s beliefs. The findings of Hassan and Bashir (2012) states that
Facebook is a source of spreading rumor and thus cannot be trusted.
Bugeja (2006) also found similar results.
Table 4
Preventing abuse of Islamic posts
Students’ Response
Do not like the post
Block it/report it
Create awareness and educate the user
Tell the person not to post
In order to prevent the abuse of Islamic posts such as unverified
traditions, wrong comments associated with prophets and religious
scholars, distorted facts; the students were asked how these can be
prevented. 33.3% students expressed that such post shall be ignored on
the Facebook page. The users shall not like the post and neither they
should share such posts to discourage the initiator. Another effective
choice with the user is to block the posts and /or report to the Facebook
authorities about such posts so that they could be removed from the
website (20.4%). Moreover, 17.9% suggested to create awareness among
the Facebook users about Islamic posts and to educate them about
sharing and giving comments on such posts. Lastly, 7.7% students
expressed that the users should request the person who posted the Islamic
information not to post such material and share their comments about the
post if any correction is needed.
Fayyaz Ahmad Faize, Fazal ur Rahman, Muhammad Athar Hussain 58
Facebook is mostly used by students for interaction with friends,
entertainment and as a leisure activity. Though that it has a great
potential to be use in education and online learning (Sobiah and Mustafa,
2016), the present study found the education use of Facebook on the
lowest priority. The use of Facebook was associated with time wastage,
privacy concern, and deterioration of social relations and moral values.
The researchers also explored students’ response to Islamic posts on
Facebook and it was found that students like to see Islamic posts while,
some students do not like these posts on Facebook and would neglect
them. Some would read and even share them with others. However, the
authenticity of these posts is a serious concern which needs to be
addressed by future researches. As regarding education, our teachers
have failed in utilizing the power of these SNW for learning and
education purposes (Al-rahmi, Othman, Yusof, & Musa, 2015). The
study recommends that Facebook and other SNW shall be used for
learning and education purpose besides entertainment and finding
friends. This also requires obligations on teacher educators to incorporate
online learning courses for teacher trainers to ensure good use of SNW
for learning purposes.
Use of Social Media among University Students: Leisure or Learning 59
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Citation of this Article:
Faize, F. A., Fazal ur Rehman., & Hussain, A. (2017).Use of social
media among university students: leisure of learning. Pakistan
Journal of Distance and Online Learning, 3(1), 51-60.


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