Does Facebook lead to lower grades? Or do college students with lower grades use Facebook more than their higher-achieving peers?
A study of 219 students at Ohio State University being presented at a conference this week doesn’t answer those questions definitively. But it suggests a link between the social networking site and academic performance.
Students who said they used Facebook reported grade-point averages between 3.0 and 3.5; those who don’t use it said they average 3.5 to 4.0. Also, Facebook users said they studied one to five hours a week, vs. non-users’ 11 hours or more.
Ohio State doctoral student Aryn Karpinski, who conducted the research with graduate student Adam Duberstein, says the study is too narrow to conclude that Facebook and academics don’t mix.
"It cannot be stated (that) Facebook use causes a student to study less" or get lower grades, she says. "I’m just saying that they’re related somehow, and we need to look into it further." Of the 68% of students who said they used Facebook, 65% accessed the site daily or multiple times daily.
Karpinski says 79% of Facebook users believe it has no impact on their academics; some say it helps them form study groups.
She says faculty ought to consider harnessing it as a learning tool. Yet a preliminary peek at a second survey suggests "a lot of faculty … didn’t even know what Facebook is," she says.