These findings are from my latest paper “The relationship between frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student engagement” to be published in an upcoming issue of Computers and Education. I asked students to estimate (using a few different indices) their frequency of using Facebook and what they did while on Facebook and then related those frequencies to engagement outcomes. This study is unique in that it’s the first one to connect what students do on Facebook to outcomes. Other studies of Facebook use and academic outcomes have used non-continuous measures of time spent. As some of you know, that’s one of my research pet peeves– truncating your variance before the fact.
On to the results– using hierarchical linear regression (N = 2,368) with gender, ethnicity, and parental education level as control variables, I found that time spent on Facebook was a significant positive predictor of time spent in campus activities.
Although time spent on Facebook was a significant positive predictor, it wasn’t the strongest predictor of time spent in campus activities. In fact, it was the weakest predictor. The strongest positive predictors, in order of strength (with strongest first), were:
- Creating or RSVPing to events on Facebook
- Viewing Photos
- Average time spent on Facebook per day
There were also negative predictors of time spent in campus activities. In order of strength, they were:
- Posting photos
- Checking up on friends (or what students call “stalking,” “creeping,” or “lurking”)
- Playing games on Facebook (as an aside, I’m so happy to have data showing that Farmville and Mafia Wars are “bad” :))