Does Facebook Make You Smarter?

Original Headline: Does Facebook make you dumb and dumber?

Facebook time might be cutting into homework time, according to a new study that examined the grades of college-age users.

 

College students who use the social networking site spend less time studying and get poorer grades than non-users, according to a new study.

The 219 students surveyed by Ohio State University doctoral candidate Aryn Karpinski had GPAs that ranged from 3.0 to 3.5, while Facebook abstainers had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0. Not surprisingly, the Facebook students averaged 1 to 5 hours of studying per week while non-users hit the books for 11 to 15 hours a week.

“I am not saying that Facebook causes poor academic performance,” says Karpinski, who co-authored the study with Adam Duberstein of Ohio Dominican University. “I am saying that the research shows that there is a relationship between Facebook use and academic performance.”

The students who participated in her research didn’t see Facebook as a problem, Karpinski notes. In fact, 79% of the students surveyed said that they didn’t think Facebook impacted their academic performance, she says.

Educators have mixed opinions on whether or not Facebook causes flunking. And it seems unlikely that college students would be willing to trade Facebook time for higher grades, says Scott Testa, a St. Joseph’s University marketing professor.

“These students were raised with computers from day one and they are the generation that has embraced electronic communication from the start,” he says. “It is the social media for 18 to 23 year olds. It’s very rare for an undergraduate to not have a Facebook page.”

Pace University professor Cathy Dwyer, Ph.D., says that even if students weren’t on Facebook, they’d find something else to spend their time on. And, she says, Facebook certainly has a positive side, especially in this economy. “Facebook offers students a way to reconnect with their professors and classmates if they get laid off,” she says. “It can help with the job search.”

But Loa Angeles psychotherapist Dr. Leslie Seppinni says Facebook is to blame for college kids socially isolating themselves.

“Whereas before they might join a study group or go a study hall with other students to study, now they keep their computer next to them and continue to look at Facebook while trying to read a book,” she says. “We are raising a society of young adults in whom face to face communication and  being able to read a face is lacking. You just don’t learn social skills when you’re sitting in front of a computer on Facebook for five hours.”

So does the author of the study think students should wean themselves from Facebook?

“I think they should engage in more self-monitoring,” Karpinsky says. “There are individual differences, meaning that some students may be able to be on Facebook for long periods of time and their GPAs will still be high. Also, I’m sure that if it wasn’t Facebook, it would be another distraction.”

Like getting together with friends face to face once in awhile, maybe?

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