Here is something that everyone can “like.”
There is no correlation between poor grades and periodic Facebook checking.
Rey Junco, a professor at Lock Haven University, has done extensive research on Facebook and its usage. His most recent study looks at the relationship between Facebook usage and grades.
He found that students spend an average of 106 minutes on Facebook per day. Between 85 percent and 99 percent of college students use Facebook.
For every 93 minutes more than that time, students saw a .12 decrease in grade point average. Junco said this doesn’t have much of a real world impact.
“We certainly are concerned about the students who are spending a lot of time on Facebook, but we are talking about three standard deviations above the mean for it to have any type of alarming impact,” Junco said.
Throughout his studies Junco found that it isn’t the number of times a student checks Facebook, but rather the amount of time a student spends on the site that affects GPA.
Sierra Downs, a junior psychology major, isn’t concerned with Facebook use either.
“I don’t think it interferes with studying,” she said. “I think if you use Facebook the right way it does have some educational value.”
Junco agreed but emphasized that the length of time students spend on the site could affect their schoolwork.
“If students are checking the site a few times a day and not spending much time on it, then that doesn’t have any relationship to outcomes,” he said. “Where if a student checks it once and spends hours on it, then that seems to be related to more negative outcomes.”
Junco said that one of the worst ways to use Facebook is to multitask on the site — having Facebook open while studying, for example.
Additionally, he found that Facebook usage correlated to students’ activities offline. Students who participate in class are those who are encouraged to take part in discussions online.
“Using Facebook is related to involvement in campus activities,” Junco said. “The data does not support the notion that an increase in social networking sites is allowing people to have less social interaction in person.”
Using Facebook “the right way” is one topic Junco’s study looked at. The study makes a distinction between communicative and non-communicative activities on Facebook.
Communicative activities would include commenting on statuses, and creating or responding to events. Non-communicative activities would include playing games on the site or repeatedly “stalking” others’ profiles. These activities are often a reflection of how introverted or extroverted students are outside of the Internet.
But Junco isn’t concerned that increased Internet use will lead to a generation lacking in social skills. Instead, he finds it more important to look at how the technology is being used.
“Media and adults spend a great deal of time talking about how Facebook is bad and terrible for social skills,” he said. “But the people that say that are looking at Facebook through their own lens of how they would use technology.
“Someone who might be from a generation that didn’t grow up with technology might say that students are spending too much time on Facebook to the exclusion of face-to-face contact, and research doesn’t show that.”
However, Eva Farrell, a senior Biology major, deleted her Facebook over the summer, because of privacy concerns and schoolwork.
“I found myself online when I should have been studying,” she said. “As you look at other people’s information you have to realize that people are seeing that same information about you. It’s creepy.”