Time on Facebook (kind of) helps your GPA
Facebook might not be to blame for that C you got in economics, a new study published last week finds.
The survey of 1,839 undergraduates found no real evidence to support the popular belief that spending time on Facebook hurts student’s grades.
“It’s a stretch to say that, to even try to interpret that time spent on Facebook is less time studying, I can’t even go there,” said Reynol Junco, who authored the groundbreaking study.
In fact, the study found that some activities on the social media site, such as checking up on friends and sharing links, were related to higher grade point averages. “The interpretation I make is that using Facebook for sharing links and checking up on friends looks like academic activity,” Junco said.
Junco, a professor in the Department of Academic Development and Counseling at Lock Haven University, said this is the first study to look at the frequency that students engage in certain Facebook activities, such as updating their statuses or sharing links. It is also the first to look at times students checked Facebook, time spent on Facebook, use a large sample, use student transcripts rather than self-reported grades and consider high school GPA.
James Martinez, a spokesman for the National Parent Teacher Association, said it made sense that posting links of news articles, for example, would be related to a higher GPA.
“Just like reading a newspaper or watching the news on TV, that can help a student tie in what they are learning with the news,” he said.
A lot of adults feel like Facebook is really bad for students, for their kids, which doesn’t seem to be the case.
On the other hand, updating statuses was found to be related to a lower GPA.
“Just as in the real world if you spend more time socializing you are probably not going to be doing well in school,” he said.
On average, the students spent a total of 106 minutes per day on Facebook, visiting the site around 6 times each day. For each additional 93 minutes, their GPA decreased by .12 points. But Junco said these results were negligible in the real world. “That means that for there to be a shocking relationship between Facebook use and GPA a student has to spend an enormous time on Facebook,” he said.
This could be good news for students whose parents scold them for their time spent on the social media site.
“Most parents are wrong,” Junco said. “A lot of adults feel like Facebook is really bad for students, for their kids, which doesn’t seem to be the case.”
Martinez said the National PTA believed Facebook could be helpful to students of the right age.
“If it’s a college student, sure, it’s a great way to stay connected with all the issues of the day,” he said.
Martinez said that college students could benefit from Facebook by using it to connect with friends and family, contact professors and organize study groups, among others. In fact, such the PTA and Facebook enjoy a strong relationship. In 2010, the two organizations began a partnership to promote safe internet use.
For college students, Facebook is often a necessary tool.
Auburn University sophomore Kelly Tsaltas said she checks Facebook 5 to 9 times a week and uses it to keep in touch with friends, follow clubs she is involved in and for her job.
“I think it’s important to know what’s going on and that’s what people use to do that,” she said.
Meanwhile, Junco said that despite the media’s portrayal of Facebook as bad for student’s grades, the results of his study did not validate that claim.
“If you’re looking for a shocking story, it’s not here,” he said. “I don’t have it for you.”