Too much face and not enough books? Facebook use and academic performance

Posted by reyjunco on October 10, 2011 in Research |

Facebook use and GPAMy latest paper Too much face and not enough books: The relationship between multiple indices of Facebook use and academic performance published in Computers in Human Behavior last week reports the findings of a study I conducted with 1,839 undergraduates. I collected data on Facebook use by surveying students and I had access to student grades through the university registrar. To date, there have been three other published studies of Facebook use and academic performance; however, this is the first one to : 1. Use a large sample, 2. Include better estimates of Facebook use (time spent on Facebook, number of times students checked Facebook, and frequency of engaging in Facebook activities), 3. Connect survey data to actual grades, and 4. Use high school GPA as a control variable in order to parse out the variance attributable to pre-existing differences in academic ability and to place other predictors in context.

1. Time spent on Facebook was negatively related to overall college GPA. The average time students spent on Facebook was 106 minutes per day. Each increase of 93 minutes beyond the mean decreased GPA by .12 points in the model. Therefore, I conclude that although this was a significant finding, the real-world impact of the relationship between time spent on Facebook and grades is negligible at best.

2. Frequency of engaging in some Facebook activities such as sharing links and checking up on friends was positively related to GPA while posting status updates was negatively related.

3. The number of times students checked Facebook was only weakly related to GPA.

4. There was not a strong link between time spent on Facebook and time spent studying.

Specific uses of Facebook are related to positive outcomes while others are related to negative ones. Therefore, Facebook use in and of itself is not detrimental to academic outcomes, it depends on how it is used. Using Facebook for socializing is negatively related to GPA while using Facebook for collecting and sharing information is positively related. As the interest in using social media, like Facebook, in educational settings increases, educators must be aware of how to integrate these sites and services in educationally relevant ways.

This study was cross sectional and correlational and while it would be intriguing to be able to say that Facebook use may be causing lower grades, it is equally likely that students who have lower grades happen to use Facebook more. It’s likely that there is a third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) variable that explains and/or mediates the relationship between Facebook use and grades. Likely candidates include student motivation, personality characteristics, and academic attitudes/values.

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  • Good stuff Rey. I really like your tone in your description of the results. I would recommend this to folks who ask me about research + Facebook. Keep it up.

  • +1 to Eric’s comment.

  • Aaron

    Great stuff. Thanks so much for the helpful information. Keep up the good work!

  • ArtEsposito

    Again, you’ve left me nothing to say but, “Right. Freaking. On!”

  • Karan

    Excellent Paper Dr. Rey. I liked it.

  • Kat

    could you please send me to the papers about the Facebook studies you cite?  thanks!  — Kat

  • Kat – Links are embedded in the blog post. You can also find more here: http://blog.reyjunco.com/publications

  • shimelis

    I would like to do my MA thesis on this Title please send me some information via shimelis.ay@gmail.com

  • clark

    can you please orient me with the variables/factors you used for facebook usage and of the variables/factors for academic performance? i am looking forward to doing a research about this here in the philippines. thanks.

  • anus

    hey dear sir, me Anus I am student in BZU Multan. I want to research more on your article “relationship between multitasking and academic performance” I found some questions in your article “1)
    How much time you spent daily for text messaging
    and face book?

    How much time you spent on these activities

    How many text message you send today?

    How many text message you send yesterday?

    How often do you do school work at the same time
    that you are doing following activities, face book, text messaging, e-mail,
    talking to friend or searching for material?

    How familiar are you with the following
    computer and Internet-related items?

    but I need original questioner which you use in your article.
    I have already sent you mail for 2 times.
    I will be very thankful to you for this kindness.
    I will wait for your response.

  • Ned Stark

    please sir can you tell me about other surveys and studies that affect students relationships with their families? studies that affect their sleeping times?

  • Many students rely on the accessibility of information on social media specifically and the web in general to provide answers. That means a reduced focus on learning and retaining information.

  • The more time students spend on social sites, the less time they spend socializing in person. Because of the lack of body signals and other nonverbal cues, like tone and inflection, social networking sites are not an adequate replacement for face-to-face communication. Students who spend a great deal of time on social networking are less able to effectively communicate in person.

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