STUDY FINDS LINK BETWEEN FACEBOOK USE, LOWER GRADES IN COLLEGE

A recent (this was 2009) study shows that college students who use Facebook spend less time studying and have lower grade point averages than students who have not signed up for the social networking website, according to a pilot study at one university. However, more than three-quarters of Facebook users claimed that their use of the social networking site didn’t interfere with their studies. There is no direct proof that Facebook leads to lower grades and less studying but there seems to be a relationship. While this was a relatively small, exploratory study, it is one of the first to find a relationship between college students’ use of Facebook and their academic achievement. In addition, users said they averaged one to five hours a week studying, while non-users studied 11 to 15 hours per week.
Personally I agree with this study and think that there is a very clear link (direct or indirect) between Facebook usage and academic performance in students, it is interesting to know more about this matter keeping in mind that almost every student spends at least some time on Facebook every day.

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27 thoughts on “STUDY FINDS LINK BETWEEN FACEBOOK USE, LOWER GRADES IN COLLEGE

  1. >The presentation of this study:Ohio State University – College of Education & Human Ecologyhttp://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/facebook2009.jpgAs with many other things in life, when done in moderation, Social Networking Sites (SNSs), such as Facebook, can prove useful, even in the education environment. I do not agree that we should allow our students use Facebook in class as it easily becomes a distracting factor. I am saying this because it is not the first time that I see a student with the facebook page loaded in the WEB browser here at ICT.However when used at home, again in moderation, it may help maintain social capital. Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook "friends:" Social capital and college students' use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), article 1.Besides one can easily see that some of the benefits of blogs are common to SNSs as well. For example, the "Wall" in Facebook is quite similar to a blog.Given the enthusiasm students show in sites like facebook and Youtube, can we see what is it that makes them so attractive and apply it to our lessons? Will our students become addicts to the subject?

  2. >I am certainly not surprised that there might be a link between the use of Facebook and lower grades, and am inclined to concur with these results. I think that using Social Networking Sites has its advantages and it is a great way of getting in contact with people whom who haven’t met for a long time or whom you do not have the opportunity to meet frequently.But to me it doesn’t make sense to chat online with someone you will be meeting later on that evening or someone you will be meeting first thing the following morning. What about the language used on Facebook? Grammar has completely flown out of the window and sometimes writings on the Wall can barely be understood!Playing games on Facebook might be fun but I am sure it takes up a lot of our students’ time – time which could be spent studying or reading. It seems that the benefits of reading have been completely lost in our society. I feel that this is also a contributing factor to the lower grades attained by students.Another point which worries me is that this generation might be losing the ability to communicate and connect on a one-to-one personal level. Is it not easier to give somebody the elbow using a message rather than facing that person? I wonder…..On a positive note I am sure that the use of Facebook has improved the students’ usage of IT and I for one am all for introducing on-line communication in my lessons – with moderation.

  3. >I have been using Facebook for the past year as an experiment with one particular class to which I lecture Organisations and Behaviour. The idea was to develop particular behavioural topics started in class and generate as much new and creative ideas as possible.I wanted to examine whether any educational improvement in my students would occur and if affirmative I would then use Facebook with the other classes as well.At the end of this academic year I have drawn up these results :1. The idea was initially well received and enthusiasm was at its highest during the first month. 2. Students sort of competed with each other to find links to useful information which could be shared.3. During the following months they started complaining that they had other assignments to write, material to study for TCAs etc etc etcThe project sort of lost its momentum and only gained some when an assignment was due to be handed in.4. Lately it has died completely since students are immersed in their studies for TCAs due this month.I have however noted that there was no change in the postings of personal photos, chatting, games etc throughout the year and that some students who were not satisfying their assignments` outcome were the ones who were using facebook the most. So there is sense in the study carried out by the College in question which started this blog. I believe that this topic lends itself to further research.

  4. >I have to come to the defense of facebook here! I myself am somewhat addicted to facebook. Not that I think about it every minute of everyday because I do have a life! However, whilst online I continuously find myself refreshing the page to see who has posted what. Does this mean that my work is slacking because of facebook? Of course not! Whilst keeping in mind that the social network is an interesting way to keep in touch with people, I also acknowledge that I have a life outside of it and I have responsibilities which I need to take care of. You might argue back that I am now a ‘responsible adult’ who is ‘mature enough to choose what is good for me’. This is true, I am more mature than most of our students, and yes I do know how to choose between good actions and bad ones (thus avoiding wasting precious time). However, there has always been a form of social networking around. During my student days there was Hi5, and yes facebook too. Nonetheless, I could never blame my facebook addiction for my low grades! Come on let’s admit it! Studying is boring. Who in the world would choose studying over using facebook? I know I wouldn’t! But during those final days of examinations when you’re stuck at home studying, facebook can be a good way to relieve stress! (Mind you a long walk would be better- but beggars cannot be choosers, and here we’re talking about facebook) Also I have found this social networking site to be beneficial for communication amongst students and myself. At times I need to communicate with my students via e-mail. However, most of them don’t bother opening their posts, especially if they fall into their spam box. Hence, by sending a facebook message to those students who added me to their friends’ lists I can circulate a message here and ask them to inform the others. Furthermore, facebook can also be used for my advantage because from the students’ status’ (who at times forget they have added their teachers) I can get to know if the students are finding difficulties in the subject I teach them, or if they are enjoying the lesson (thus having higher chances of positive turnouts in my classed and less distractions in class as their attention would be on the lesson).Therefore we cannot simply dismiss facebook as an utter waste of time because just like it has its disadvantages it also has its advantages! We just need to try to manipulate it for our benefit as Tonio did!

  5. >Hi allThanks for posting your observations, Tonio. They definitely should provide us all with food for thought in terms of further research work. I am not a Facebook fan, myself, although I have been using it to trace and get back in contact with long-lost friends around the world. In that respect it is, indeed, a great asset. It was also heartening to read one of Tatjana' s former postings on another page wherein the spelling of one of her former students showed a dramatic improvement because he had spent a considerable amount of time chatting up the girls over the summer recess! I tend to concur with many points listed by Suzanne. We all seem to agree that moderation is key to everything in life. However, something tells me that the definition of the term moderation greatly differs from one individual to another!!

  6. >I think that the thing with Facebook is that everyone seems to be having a great time on it! Because people are selective about what pictures to upload, you get a feeling that everyone is abroad or at a party and you are inside studying. Also, during assignment or exam time, a lot of negativity is shared on status updates about how much work needs to be done. It is also fun after all! Browsing through pictures, playing games, becoming members of groups….during study time isn't that better? 🙂 But just as a point, I wouldn't blame facebook. In my university years I spent loads of 'study' hours on the Neopets site instead of studying.

  7. >I remember when I was back at university working on my thesis I would spend hours writing the dissertation and seeing who is online on msn! I still got a good mark for the thesis so I am not sure if there is a relationship between time spent on facebook and exam marks. I don't see a problem with students using facebook. Of course, if they spend several hours a day on facebook, then that would become a problem. Without knowing, students using facebook are becoming more computer literate and are also exposed to the english language.

  8. >A very interesting blog. Actually as other contributors have stated, we don’t have to blame Facebook for the low grades that students achieved. I would add that, in reality it all boils down to bad time management from the students’ side. The issue is that the more distractions (as I opt to call them) the students have, the less time they will spend on studying. We have to accept the fact that we are now living in a small world. Communication has made great leaps forward and provided us with a networking scenario that was undreamed of just ten years ago. Apart from Facebook, we can add mobile telephony, SMS, the Internet etc etc. All these have made us feel closer and more integrated in society, an e-society.Unfortunately, we have to declare that the young generation cannot strike a balance between quality study time and “time off”. We have to admit that most of them are carried away by these communication tools and they are incapable of limiting the time they spend using them.I believe that the issue of time management must eventually be taught to students at some point in their schooling. This could be in their early teens and subsequently during their first year at the College or alternatively as part of induction training programme. In other words, the solution lies in educating our young on how to manage their time better and effectively.

  9. >In my opinion, students have many distractions not just on the internet but they have to control and manage their time well. Students could even spend a lot of time watching television and it distracts them from their studies, so I don't think that Facebook is the only think to blame. I think that anything that students might get addicted to could distract them from their studies, and control over oneself is the key to managing time well.

  10. >FaceBook is the latest method how people interact and communicate with others even when they are miles away from each other. The website helps others to make new friends, to meet old friends, and give people the chance to express and share different opinions to the whole world. This is the new generation, and there’s nothing much we can do about it. Up to a few years back it was considered to be very strange if someone did not own a mobile as a gadget, similarly at present everyone must be a FaceBook user. And, if you opt not to be on FaceBook, you easily get forgotten and left out. This in itself is a form of peer pressure that students have to face. As Louis said, the main problem is time management. Students are spending many hours on FaceBook instead of studying and continuing their work. The fault is not FaceBook. The students use other sites such as MSN, Twitter, You Tube and these can all be a reason where they spend so much of their precious time. Nowadays, students prefer chatting instead of meeting with their friends some where else. This is the virtual world we are all living in. But as for all things we do in life, we need to be moderate. What needs to be done is to coach and train students to manage their time properly and set their priorities right. Mariella

  11. >This is quite a hot potato…It seems that if one hasn't got a facebook account he/she is automatically disadvantaged from the rest of his peers. Whilst it is true that facebook is the latest social networking 'gadget' I tend to argue that this virtual environment and the time students spend in this cyberspace, is leaving them with less opportunities to venture in real-life experiences…For me getting out and having a good chat with friends or going for a drive somewhere helps you truly develop your interpersonal skills. Besides there are also many underrated aspects which we sometimes forget…For example, when someone writes something down on a piece of paper, there is a higher chance that he will remember what he wrote…However, through the mentality of providing information on screen, using online calendars, following online presentations, etc… we (students and lecturers) are becoming more lazy! And in reality through technological development we can do much more today with much less effort…From your home office you can turn on/off all appliances at home, watch security cameras for any intrusions, turn on the gas, etc… (Rovio is an example of such recent inventions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc_B5ertb1c) Back to facebook, I think that students should be encouraged to develop their talents in a natural way, something which I believe can eventually contribute towards achievement of higher grades too. As an example, I take farmville, which is a game frequently played by our students…If they had to really sow a potato and let it grow, they would have to think about the type of soil, during which time they would have to water the land, the type of fertilizers they would require, how they would manage their equipment, etc…Doing things first-hand is different than having a PC carrying out everything automatically for you!

  12. >I would be careful how to interpret such a (pilot) study, which will of course make headlines with such a controversial issue (just like texting and the uproar about textese). There are different groups with different behaviours. Maybe those with the 3.0 – 3.5 GPA (Grade Point Average) have a lower grade point average because of other things, not because they spend more time on Facebook (this was just one variable). Plus, not having FB does not mean students will spend more time studying. Karpinsky stressed the need not to see a direct link. Nothing is made of cause-and-effect, and there is no indication of what direction this effect is (or size of the effect). Maybe lower GPA students just happened to use Facebook more often, because of their involvement in other things but not because it caused their lower GPA – maybe they like spending more time socialising, face-to-face and/or online. Note that a number of participants in the study are more likely to be involved in extra-curricular activities. I think we need to be aware that not everybody aims to get a perfect score, but a decent one at least, and Facebook shouldn’t be the next scapegoat. There will always be distractions in life, and as Louis pointed out, it can also be an issue of time mismanagement. I remember the times when I would spend hours at a time on DUNE, an old PC game (down with the Harkonnen!), while working on my Masters. I just needed a distraction, and that was it. And btw, I used the mIRC too (oops, giving away my age here!) If people use FB during lectures, banning access to FB will not create more attentive students. They will doodle, daydream or whatever anyway – let’s go a trip down Memory Lane ourselves and see what made us skip lectures or just plain doze through the sessions.

  13. >I agree John, but the problem I find here is that this obsession with Facebook is overlapping with other areas which are of higher priority. I don’t let my students use Facebook during lectures; at the same time I admit that it is not easy to control them from using it, especially if the lecture involves work on the PCs. I had cases were I checked the students PCs and found them posting Facebook messages to other students who are present in the same classroom, or even to the same student sitting next to them! So is this becoming an alternative to verbal chatting during the lesson?I think that the problem with Farmville and similar applications is that they provide alienation, and this is what the students are looking for. Students who are not interested in the lecture need to find something else to do while the lecture is being delivered, instead of starring at the lecturer pretending they are being attentive. The solution is simply Facebook! There must be a more restrictive access to Facebook and similar applications. Though this has been implemented at MCAST, I don’t think it is efficient enough due to proxy applications.

  14. >Dear John,I partially agree with you. Just as you said, I prefer going out and have a good chat with friends over a bottle of beer rather than chatting and typing. In fact, I prefer saying this in front of you, people rather than typing it, since right now you cannot see my expressions, whether I'm happy, sad, sleepy, etc.But don't forget that our students are living, and prefer to live in a virtual world. Many play Farmville, but no one would really go ploughing in the fields; many play Call of Duty and other similar shooter games, but no one would dare go for war. Today we are reaping the fruit of the society and mentality we live in.Mark, as they say, "If you can't beat them, join them!" I'm not saying that we should use Facebook too during the lessons but that students would find a way to overcome the restrictions. In my opinion, I wouldn't mind if students used Facebook during the lessons. What would really annoy me is that those students using Facebook during the lesson would ask me questions to which I would already have given an answer! My reply would always be: "Check on Facebook, maybe you could find some help!"Students who are disciplined enough, know when to use Facebook and know when not to use it!Good night

  15. >I think that one needs to be very careful when interpreting data from such studies because even though at first impression the results seem clear, I don’t think they are necessarily true. Even though I believe that students are spending way too much time on Facebook we cannot simply attribute their lack of achievement to this social networking site. Students could be merely using Facebook instead of using other alienation processes (as previously said) such as computer games. I think that everyone needs and uses some sort of alienation process/es occasionally especially when studying. Back when I was a teenager I did not have internet so I used to spend a lot of time watching TV. I think it was my stress reliever or like a world where for a moment I forgot all the things I still had to do. The problem with Facebook is that it is addictive and that students loose track of time when using it. Just the other day I was telling my students to study for their exams and not to waste time on Facebook but they told me that they use it as a stress reliever. They told me that they meet online on Facebook and discuss issues related to the upcoming exams and at the same time feel that they are all in the same boat. I think that the most important thing is for students to realise the importance that one still needs to find time to study in order to do well. Therefore students have to learn to manage the time they have more efficiently. Mildred

  16. >The true culprit in this dicussion about a link between facebook and grades achieved is not the concept of facebook per se but a concoction of issues. 1. Lack of time management skills and self discipline. Students who lack self discipline will be completely at the mercy of facebook's addictive powers.2. Since students will be still seated at their computer desks while having their 'breaks', the mind and body will not be having a true break and students will still feel tired after spending a number of hours seated down.3. If logged on to facebook students cannot plan when to study and when to have their breaks according to their requirements but will be highly influenced by their peers who promppt them to chat.

  17. >I have come across this article which tackles the use of Facebook for education. Though not directly related to e-learning, I think that the article brings out some positive points on the use of Facebook to those who may be a bit scepticle. It does not speak on learning for a particular course, but of obtaining general values which may be learnt for life like issues on cyberbullying, good online citizenhip (this may remind us of the case that was in court a few weeks ago of the young man posting a particular comment on Facebook with regards to the Pope) and Internet security. The article follows:Facebook to Promote Internet Safety for KidsBy The Associated Press – New YorkFacebook is joining forces with a national parent-teachers' association to promote Internet safety through a set of tools and resources for kids, schools and parents.The world's largest online social network and the National PTA will work together to build a program to provide information and support about such issues as cyberbullying, good online citizenship and Internet security.Because the partnership is just starting, officials do not have much detail on what kinds of resources they plan to offer through their respective websites and through other means. But Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said the plan is not just to educate kids about being on Facebook, but about being online.He said "the sooner we can get instilling responsible behavior, the better." The PTA will reach out to local parent-teacher groups to promote the program, while Facebook plans to do the same on its site.Anne Collier, co-director of Connectsafely.org, a forum about online safety issues, said the deal combining Facebook's broad reach and the PTA's relationship with schools and parents "makes a lot of sense.""Citizenship online and offline needs to be a part of the child's life," she said. "It needs to be taught at school and at home — it's not just a digital thing."Child safety advocate Parry Aftab also welcomed the program, and said it's important for parents not to be scared of technology but to use it to their advantage to communicate with their kids."It's not about turning it off any more, it's not about scare tactics," Aftab said. "It's all about teaching our kids the skills they need to survive in this digital world."Reference:The Associated Press. (10th June 2010). Facebook to Promote Internet Safety for Kids. Retrieved 11th June 2010 from Education Week: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/06/10/360137ustecfacebookkids_ap.html

  18. >Joining you in this discussion, if it can be called like that, I think it would be unfair to highlight that facebook can be singled out as a reason for student’s low grades. not that i am some great addict of facebbok, but I think in some instances facebook can be a good source for information sharing, however like everything in life, if it is not appropriately used it would be a negative contributor. Sometimes it seems funny that we focus on the students’ flaws and little do we acknowledge that more or less, firstly they have various strengths, and secondly in every era there was and shall be some kind of gadget or magnetism that individuals would tend to glue their attention to. If it would not be facebook, it would be something else. I think it is always advisable to strike a balance, and to provide education awareness for self discipline.

  19. >I agree with Christiana and Mildred. We have to be cautious not to run to premature conclusions and just blame Facebook for lack of academic achievement. I believe that in certain cases Facebook could be a variable just like any other alienation method students adopt to make their life more interesting. I feel that this issue also has to do with self-control of the individual and also the sense of priority students manage to incorporate in themselves during their development. I think it is the role of the teachers and also of parents to assist students in striking a balance between work and play. This is not an easy task especially if this sense of balance and self-control was not incorporated in the students’ personality since a young age.

  20. >Great, we got students to to use Facebook so finally be more active in class. I do think that facebook is designed for social networking, would be slightly difficult I guess to make serious connections with proper study by using platforms that encourage gossip rather than comment. On a personal level I do believe that facebook or such other apps have great potential to allow students to work as teams on particular projects that involve practical work such as outdoor activities exhibitions etc. However I have reservations about introducing facebook in class because it hinders the art of educational practice and ethic. Some disciplines such as grammar, research and public speaking can become reliant on the fact that facebook is individually driven and experiences out of this package are always singular but not collective, personally I believe this might reflect on a student's confidence in communicating and personality.

  21. >Perhaps it is true that there is a link between Facebook use and lower grades in college. However, I believe that this correlation can be 'lent' for a wide range of other online activities.As others have shared before me, many of us recall ourselves wasting time away on some trivial application instead of applying ourselves to what had to be done.I feel it is quite short-sighted to correlate lower grades to Facebook use because when anyone becomes frustrated with the task at hand and feels like wandering off for a while, they can do anything else other than studying (and working on school work which leads to better grades). Students can surf the web, play games, chat with online friends besides a whole range of other 'offline' activities such as going out, watching TV, etc.Once again, it is the individual's intrinsic motivation that is most powerful in such circumstances. I believe that we stand to succeed more by helping students in this regard rather than in helping them curtail their use of Facebook. One needs to tackle the root if one is to successfully root out the problem (excuse the pun).

  22. >Facebook can disturb some students but not everyone. Being a lecturer at the faculty of ICT where all students have access to an internet connected computer in all classes at all times I do see a number of students that are strongly tempted to access facebook during the lectures (let alone at home). But surprisingly it's not the majority of the students but I'd say only 5%. And it's the students that are not really interested in their studies that do it. Blocking facebook is not quite a goood idea at the ICT faculty because obviously, blocking something to an IT guy is like telling a teenager not to drink alcohol Saturday night at Paceville. It becomes a challenge which frankly can be easily sorted out (if anyone wants to know how to get into facebook from work let me know. It's up to you if you get into trouble then… ¦:-> ) Anyway, a smart school would not only not block facebook, but it would have it's own page, group, etc… on it. If you can't beat it, join it. In a recent study Anne Hewett and Andrea Forte found out that a faculty group on facebook with the professors profiles did not impact their ratings of their teachers. However 33% think that there should not be a faculty group on facebook. See http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.94.8152&rep=rep1&type=pdf)

  23. >I think that anything more entertaining than studying would be a distraction. I remember than during my exams miniclips and youtube used to look full interesting stuff which would be a shame not to do, where normally they were simply 2 other websites. What I used to do was use them at a treat, after an hour or so studying I used to have a break … this asked for a lot of self control and perseverance, something which our students dont have.I think we should use a software that permits the lecturer to block particular websites, only during his lesson. That way if the lab is used during some other time then everyone can have their favourite break.Also I agree with Aaron (above), even though I am not a fan of facebook, if you cant beat them, join them. Every institute should have his own page, this would serve as a marketing tool as well and could serve as a notice board for the students.

  24. >I totally agree with Christiana in saying that independently of what applications or technologies we integrate in our education system, the main point here is that students tend to distract themselves a lot and through the use of nowadays' technologies and applications we may increase such a risk of students deviating from the goal required to be achieved. Hence as in all other things, before we use such applications it would be better off to prepare students in effectively using these technologies as an aid to their studies rather than risking making them a distraction during their studies since distractions are already at the order of the day.

  25. >I agree with what Mariella wrote. Students are pressured to use facebook through their peers. Even adults are becoming addicts to facebook and not just students. Obviously the solution is to use it with moderation because facebook does have advantages. What concerns me is how to show to students what is moderation. An adult is in a position to determine a balance between the use of facebook and his/her life but I am afraid that students are not able to do so. We are living this age of social networking. We cannot be left out but we have to remember that we are human beings and we have a social life. We should not leave social networking to replace face to face interaction.

  26. >As Ian has said I cannot find the relevance between Facebook and the classroom since Facebook is seen as a simply recreational thing for our students – and as a language teacher I find that teaching through Facebook as an close to impossible thing especially after one has a look at the language being used there …..Also I do not agree that Facebook is the reason why our students are getting lower grades, since anything that is a distraction from their students could be the cause of lower grades, whether this is watching TV, playing computer games, going out with friends … therefore one should not blame Facebook,the problem seems to be the students' time management skills ….

  27. >I have my reservations on this study, and thus I researched for studies that show the benefits of social networking sites. Researchers at the University of Minnesota discovered the educational benefits of social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace. This study found that low-income students are in many ways just as technologically proficient as their counterparts, going against what results from other studies suggest. Students that responded to this study were confident that they enhance their creativity through social networking sites. Moreover, such sites help them in being open to new or diverse views and achieve better communication skills. Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher in the university's College of Education and Human Development and principal investigator of the study stated that: "Students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, editing and customizing content and thinking about online design and layout. They're also sharing creative original work like poetry and film and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology. The Web sites offer tremendous educational potential."

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