Is There a Relationship Between Facebook, Grades?

May 07, 2009
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(PhysOrg.com) -- News in mid-April of an unpublished study suggesting that college students' use of Facebook was related to lower college academic achievement probably sent more than a few parents reeling. Now a new study may allay parental concern.

Attempts by researchers to replicate the results of the widely publicized preliminary Ohio State University study failed to find any robust relationship between use of the popular site and diminished grades.

“We found no evidence of use correlating with lower ,” said Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Hargittai is co-author of “Facebook and Academic Performance: Reconciling a Media Sensation with Data” with Josh Pasek, a doctoral student at Stanford University, and eian more of the University of Pennsylvania’s Adolescent Risk Communication Institute. The study appears in the online journal First Monday.

The researchers used relevant information from three existing data sets -- a sample of more than 1,000 undergraduates from the University of Illinois, Chicago; a nationally representative cross sectional sample of 14- to 22-year-olds; and a nationally representative longitudinal panel of American youth aged 14- to 23. No significant negative between grade point averages and Facebook use was found.

“I suspect that basic Facebook use -- what these studies measure -- simply doesn’t have generalizable consequences for grades,” said Hargittai, whose research explores the social and policy implications of the Web. The doubt cast on the use of vis-à-vis students, the study suggests, is reminiscent of suspicions cast on earlier new media, including TV and motion pictures, and their effect on children.

“The Internet and social networking sites in particular can be used in any number of ways, some of which may be beneficial to the user and others less so. More important than whether people use these sites is what they do on them,” said Hargittai. “Cultivating relationships, for example, can lead to positive outcomes.”

That is not to say that extraordinary Facebook use can never have deleterious effects on academic performance.

“If somebody’s spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook at the expense of studying, his or her academic performance may suffer, just as it might from spending an excessive time on any activity,” Hargittai said. “ We need more research with more nuanced data to better understand how social networking site usage may relate to academic performance.”

The study can be found in the online journal First Monday at
www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/… ticle/view/2498/2181 . The journal is one of the first openly accessible, peer-reviewed journals on the Internet, solely devoted to the Internet.

Provided by Northwestern University (news : web)

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User comments : 6

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dsl5000
not rated yet May 07, 2009
Really? people are researching this? Isn't it obvious? If you're on facebook doing things that are irrelevant to studying...it digs into study time. People who use facebook when they need to study know they are procrastinating...unless you are using the chat function to ask relevant questions...etc.

Haha, like masturbation :P it's ok to do it every now and then, but if you over do it, it's counter productive...and it sometimes hurts...hahahaha :)
docknowledge
not rated yet May 07, 2009
Factors they're likely missing are that some students use Facebook as a way to discuss homework? Or find good cheat sites? Or to trade homework?

The idea that there's no correlation between TV watching and intelligence is ridiculous. When I'm at work, I just amazed at how ignorant people in their 20s are. Maybe they've managed to get good "grades" and watch TV, both, but they have very poor writing skills, no knowledge of history or law. Basically, the only way they can compete with me (who no longer watches TV) is to turn the workplace into a social club, where friendship is more important than knowledge or performance. No wonder so many American are unemployed -- the MTV, iPod, Facebook generation is entering the workforce -- and they can't compete on the world market.
Rach
not rated yet May 08, 2009
Interesting. Very interesting. Facebook is a good way to network, create connections, and maintain relationships in a hectic world. It's a good place to vent or get opinions from friends. (especially the ones you don't see much because of distance or time constraints) Just don't let it take over your life, and you'll be fine. And don't stay up until 3am chatting! and with that, i'm off to do homework. ;)
bmcghie
not rated yet May 08, 2009
I agree with Rach. As for docknowledge... some of us don't LIKE History or Law. Some of us prefer cell biology and new microarray techniques. I advise caution before lumping all us facebook-using 20-somethings in the same group.

Plus, iPods are great. It means I can work in the lab all day without having to hear a word anyone says. My boss likes it because I'm more productive, and I like it because I don't have to listen to her. :)
docknowledge
not rated yet May 10, 2009
The difference is bmcghie, a) Those who know history are condemned to repeat it, and b) I'm talking about basic law, such as the reasons not to rip CDs and DVDs, downloading illegal software. Traffic laws? Consumer rights? I'm not talking about being a lawyer, I'm talking about basic ignorance of how our society works. Of course there is more advanced law, like: how do you cover your butt and your company's butt when your company is sued. Believe me, they didn't come running to the 20 somethings to resolve that in the company I was in.

I do lump 20 somethings in a category: they only have a few years experience as adults.
docknowledge
not rated yet May 10, 2009
Rach, you can't make me believe that chatting is as effective as studying. Nor can you make me believe that somehow Facebook chatting is better than email, or a million other online sites, or *gasp* talking to your fellow students in person.

Ask teachers or professors...we have several in my family. American students are getting worse every year.

Here's something from a national newspaper:

"I have this ongoing discussion with a longtime reader who also just so happens to be a longtime Oakland high school teacher, a wonderful guy who's seen generations of teens come and generations go and who has a delightful poetic sensibility and quirky outlook on his life and his family and his beloved teaching career.

And he often writes to me in response to something I might've written about the youth of today, anything where I comment on the various nefarious factors shaping their minds and their perspectives and whether or not, say, EMFs and junk food and cell phones are melting their brains and what can be done and just how bad it might all be.

His response: It is not bad at all. It's absolutely horrifying."