Monday, 13 April 2009 16:51

Facebook fanatics face failure

It may be just one of those studies that incorrectly identify a causal link, but new research at a US university does appear to show that Facebook fans are likely to get lower grades than their non-Facebook counterparts. As for the reason, well that's as old as the hills.

A survey of 219 undergraduate and post-graduate students at Ohio State University revealed that Facebook users - more than two thirds of the students surveyed - had on average significantly lower grades than the non-users.

However, the co-author of the study, Aryn Karpinski, a doctoral student in education at Ohio State University, admits the study does not provide conclusive evidence that using Facebook leads to lower grades.

“We can’t say that use of Facebook leads to lower grades and less studying – but we did find a relationship there,” said Karpinski.

In addition, Karpinski herself is not a Facebook user and does admit to having feelings of antipathy toward use of the social networking site.

“For me, I think Facebook is a huge distraction,” she said.

However, before anybody jumps to the conclusion that Karpinski allowed bias to interfere with her scientific objectivity, she openly admits that the results of her findings could be due to other factors.


“There may be other factors involved, such as personality traits, that link Facebook use and lower grades,” she said.

“It may be that if it wasn’t for Facebook, some students would still find other ways to avoid studying, and would still get lower grades.  But perhaps the lower GPAs (grade point averages) could actually be because students are spending too much time socializing online.”

In addition, the co-author of the report, Adam Duberstein of Ohio Dominican University, is a Facebook user.

So how much difference was there between the Facebook users and the non-users? And is there any specific reason for the difference?

It appears from the survey that Facebook users put in far less study time than non-users and it shows up in their grades.

Facebook users said they averaged one to five hours a week studying, while non-users studied 11 to 15 hours per week.

Facebook users in the study had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.5, while non-users had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0 - that's a whole grade level difference.

The researchers surveyed 219 students at Ohio State, including 102 undergraduate students and 117 graduate students.  Of the participants, 148 said they had a Facebook account.

The study found that 85 percent of undergraduates were Facebook users, while only 52 percent of graduate students had accounts.

Karpinski said it was significant that the link between lower grades and Facebook use was found even in graduate students.  She said that graduate students generally have GPAs above 3.5, so the fact that even they had lower grades when they used Facebook -and spent less time studying – was an amazing finding.

What it all boils down to however is that if you study less, you're likely to get lower grades. That holds true if you're a Facebook user, fanatical gamer, a day dreamer or just a plain old party animal.

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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.



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