I had to write about Facebook for obvious reasons. Facebook, oh my! It is more addictive than drugs. What is about these social networking sites that gets everybody glued to their laptops? Well, for one it is fun (duh!), and for another it helps you pretend like you are listening to the professor when you are actually ‘Facebooking.’

But is it so addictive that it has to be used even when the professor is lecturing in class?

“Of course I use Facebook in class. If the professor is boring, or when I am feeling drowsy, Facebook is one of the strategies that I use to keep myself awake,” says Kruti Shah, a USC student.

However, she goes on to say that it is absolutely distracting when her classmates use Facebook since it diverts her attention and makes her lose concentration. She understands that using Facebook disturbs her neighbors, but she justifies her action by saying that “this is the easiest way to stay awake in class, especially when the professor speaks slowly or is repetitive.”

I don’t see why we as students should use Facebook when we are supposed to be listening to the professor and taking down notes. I personally feel that it is highly distracting when a classmate is flipping through pictures of her friend or changing her status saying, “Let’s party this Friday. Who is in for some drinks and food?”

What has happened to the good old face-to-face talk? Well, it’s more Facebook-to-Facebook talk. Facebook and other networking sites help people find their old friends and meet new people. It even works as an online dating site (I have not tried that one yet, nor do I intend to!). Facebook is undoubtedly a very useful creation, but students should learn to keep these distractions at bay.

Professors, before beginning their lectures, have started warning students not to misuse their laptops, especially by using Facebook. Every professor is aware that students chat on Facebook more than taking notes. Facebook fever is spreading like an epidemic, and they have no other option but to keep an eye on students to make sure they are mentally in class and not drifting off into cyberspace.

Professors are now banning laptops to avoid such distractions in class. However, students continue to be glued to Facebook and distracted by similar Web sites by smuggling their iPhones and smart phones under the desk to peek at news feeds and update their status.  

Be it home or class, Facebook has made its way into student life and is going to stay there for a while. iPhone, blackberry and any phone you name can access Facebook. If laptops are banned in class, mobile phones come out of the pocket. Such is the pull toward this social networking site.

“Eighty percent of the time Facebook is distracting because I waste my time going over the news feed, while 20 percent it is actually helpful since it allows me to refresh myself in classes that last for two hours or longer,” says Aaushi Jain, another USC student.

If you can multitask, then using Facebook and listening in class at the same time would not be a problem. Professors just want their students to learn and get good grades. If that can be accomplished, they are more than happy with their students. Digital distractions are a menace to professors and students alike.

As a student, I have also used Facebook in class. I have observed that when my neighbor is on this site, I tend to look at the screen rather than look at the professor lecturing in class. It is not only wrong to divert other students’ attention but is also very disrespectful to the professor.

Now I think twice before using Facebook in class. It is not that difficult to control technological temptation. Just keep in mind that Facebook is not to be used in class because even though you can multitask, there may be other students who cannot do that.

Turning off the network connection on your laptop when you are in class is the best way to avoid digital distractions.