Increased Facebook use correlates with lower grades
The study, which surveyed 219 Ohio State undergraduate and graduate students, found that Facebook users typically had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.5, while non-users typically had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0, according to a press release from Ohio State. Of the students surveyed, 148 were Facebook users, and 71 were not.
“I’m not saying Facebook causes people to study less — I’m saying there’s a relationship,” said Aryn Karpinski, a graduate student in education at Ohio State and a co-author of the story. “It’s correlation versus causation.”
Other distractions from studying, she added, could contribute to the correlation, and people’s different personalities could also explain the relationship she found.
“Anyone could easily argue the opposite,” she explained. “Maybe people who get worse grades end up spending more time on Facebook.”
Karpinski said she hopes her study’s findings will encourage further investigation into more intricate factors of the relationship between students’ use of the social networking site and their academic performance.
Karpinski said she first came up with the idea to study Facebook in her master’s program at West Virginia University. She explained that, as a teaching assistant, she noticed the popularity of the social networking website among her undergraduates.
“They were all talking about the website,” she said. “Every day brought new drama in the world of Facebook.”
Emily Margolis ’10 said she thought spending time on Facebook actually benefited her instead of harming her grades.
“I’m going to waste some time every day no matter what ... Facebook is just one way I waste time,” she explained. ”If anything, it actually helps it keeps me aware of what activities are going on. I’m able to participate in study groups through Facebook ... so I would say it actually helps me.”
Margolis added that she thinks there is an “indirect correlation” between Facebook use and lower grades.
“For many people who spend more time on Facebook, [it may] mean [they’re] more social,” she noted. “If you’re more social, then you tend to prioritize differently.”
In spite of her findings, Karpinski said she is “not anti-Facebook at all.” She added that she could see the future development of useful academic tools on the social networking site and that there are other ways the site could help students.
But Karpinski said she was doubtful she would ever get a Facebook account. “I don’t think I can — not after this, right?”