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Facebook Users Get Lower Grades In College 284

Posted by timothy
from the but-doodlers-do-fine dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "According to a survey of college students Facebook users have lower overall grades than non-users. The study by Aryn Karpinski, an education researcher at Ohio State University, found that Facebook user GPAs are in the 3.0 to 3.5 range on average, compared to 3.5 to 4.0 for non-users and that Facebook users also studied anywhere from one to five hours per week, compared to non-users who studied 11 to 15 or more hours per week. Karpinski emphasized that correlation does not equal causation and that the grades association could be caused by something else. 'I'm just saying that there's some kind of relationship there, and there's many third variables that need to be studied.' One hypothesis is that students who spend more time enjoying themselves rather than studying might tend to latch onto the nearest distraction, such as Facebook or that students who use the social networking site might also spend more time on other non-studying activities such as sports or music. 'It may be that if it wasn't for Facebook, some students would still find other ways to avoid studying, and would still get lower grades. But perhaps the lower GPAs could actually be because students are spending too much time socializing online.' As for herself, Karpinski said she doesn't have a Facebook account, although the co-author of the study does. 'For me, I think Facebook is a huge distraction.'"
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Facebook Users Get Lower Grades In College

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  • by onion2k (203094) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:48AM (#27569613) Homepage

    People without social lives don't use social networks.

    • by Swizec (978239) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:53AM (#27569699) Homepage
      Even people without social lives per se use social networks online. It's the boring brutes who can't see a hair past their GPA (and are the only ones to actually care about it) that nobody wants to socialise with and thus locking them into a perpetual circle of academic exelence at the cost of inability to operate in real life.

      I bet most successful CEO's, politicans, lawyers and other impressively successful types would use social networks a lot if they existed way back when. However, I'm sure most of their accountants and other people with great GPA's wouldn't.

      Networking - it's been here forever.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Weeksauce (1410753)
        This is why the average millionares GPA is only a 2.92. You don't need to be smart to be rich.
    • Slackers (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dj245 (732906)
      To me, this is the same question as "Does marijuana make you unmotivated, or are unmotivated people more likely to enjoy marijuana?" This is based on the unproven assumption that people who smoke marijuana tend to be unmotivated.
      • Re:Slackers (Score:4, Funny)

        by ciderVisor (1318765) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @10:09AM (#27569945)

        Marijuana motivates me to raid the fridge and listen to Pink Floyd.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Opportunist (166417)

        Unmotivated? You should see a few friends of mine when they're high and no food in the house. If you ever wanted to redecorate, invite them over, give them what they want and then tell them there's a box of oreos hidden somewhere in your apartment.

        You just gotta give people the right kind of motivation. I.e. that kind that motivates them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hosecoat (877680)
      People without social lives USE social networks. /FIXED
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rhizome (115711)

      People without social lives don't use social networks.

      One of the things that surprised me most when I started being contacted by old high school friends was that the most Facebook-active of them were stay-at-home moms, the underemployed, and people who hadn't moved far from our hometown. These are the people who want you to play some game app with them, send cocktails/skateboards, "20 questions," "five favorite 'X's," and to sign up for causes. This has provided a valuable lesson to me that has caused me to

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by g4b (956118)
        that's pointing out exactly what I would miss in such a study: the quality of usage.

        being online in facebook and writing messages to a lot of friends, planning your week and inviting people to join you at certain activities is the social usage of facebook.
        however surfing around in the facebook web, looking at photos, and playing games in facebook is the non-social usage of facebook.

        So, even if people use facebook, it really depends what they spend their time with mostly.

        I have two friends in mine, who are s
    • by steelfood (895457)

      I'd be interested to see the same study done with /. instead of Facebook.

  • by internerdj (1319281) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:50AM (#27569647)
    "Who is a non-user?" Facebook has become a very common thing. How big is the sample set of non-users compared to users? Is there any relevant personality trends that run through those who refuse to use Facebook?
    • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @11:09AM (#27570849)

      "Who is a non-user?" Facebook has become a very common thing. How big is the sample set of non-users compared to users? Is there any relevant personality trends that run through those who refuse to use Facebook?

      My first thought was "what defines a user?" I have a Facebook account, and I spend maybe 30 minutes total per day reading up on what everyone is doing. Does that make me a user by their definition? What about someone who has an account that they only check when they get a notification about something? What about someone who spends four hours every day on those damned "quizzes" that I don't give a rat's ass about?

  • by xzvf (924443) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:51AM (#27569667)
    With the proliferation of online degrees and most people moving their social interaction to social networking sites, college may soon be an extension of Facebook. 50 years from now Facebook University may be the most prestigious college in the United States. I don't know if I'm being funny or insightful, but all of a sudden I feel depressed.
    • by need4mospd (1146215) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @10:08AM (#27569933)

      I don't know if I'm being funny or insightful, but all of a sudden I feel depressed.

      its ok dood. im a certefied facebook pysychiartrist thnx to my online degree w/ a 1.2 gba(hey its still passing!!!LoLZ) and i can help u fell better just post onmy wall for some help and i"ll give u ur first seccion for free since i cant find a job anyways

      • Don't worry scrote. There are plenty of 'tards out there living really kick ass lives. My first wife was 'tarded. She's a pilot now.

      • by geekmux (1040042)

        its ok dood. im a certefied facebook pysychiartrist thnx to my online degree w/ a 1.2 gba(hey its still passing!!!LoLZ) and i can help u fell better just post onmy wall for some help and i"ll give u ur first seccion for free since i cant find a job anyways

        No, the really sad part is if we continue to lower the standards with each and every generation that comes along, THIS guy will be able to land a job, mainly because the idiot who hired him was his e-roommate in "college" and boasts a 2.5GPA...

        • by PitaBred (632671)
          You think that isn't how hiring happens now? You haven't had many jobs, have you? Networking is paramount in getting anything more than entry level.
    • Who the hell would want to graduate from FU?
      • Who the hell would want to graduate from FU?

        Someone who was about to graduate from South Tennessee Facebook University ?

    • by MK_CSGuy (953563)

      If Facebook U is the prestigious one, does MySpace U is the new "clown university"?

  • Sounds like Facebook users have a future career in Marketing :-)

    Scott Adams wrote the truth when Dibert was sent to the Marketing dept: "Marketing.....2 drink minimum"

  • there's many third variables that need to be studied

    It would appear that Karpinski is a heavy facebook user.

  • ...a new study has found that people addicted to meth have a harder time holding down a job than people who are not addicted.

    C'mon, seriously? We needed a study to prove this? Give me a break.

    Usually I can support a study if it would actually make a difference. Given the general level of ignorance and lack of common sense in young adults these days, this will have about as much of an impact as trying to convince them that texting while driving is bad.

    • by Khan (19367)

      What an appropriate and outstanding signature you have. And unfortunately, it's true :-(

  • Other Distractions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leroybrown (136516) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @10:07AM (#27569921) Homepage

    I managed to kill a LOT of time during my first shot at college in the early 90's playing Super Tecmo Bowl, practicing for the dorms' Street Fighter 2 tournament, and hanging out on BBS's (I had one of three computers in the 150 room dorm). Had the intertubes and Facebook been around at the time I'd have been killing time on there. When it came down to it I was just unprepared for college so after getting kicked out at the end of my second year, I took a year off to work and learn how much minimum wage sucks, then went back for a second attempt with a better perspective and had no problem buckling down.

    • by rob1980 (941751)
      That's exactly what I'm up to now, albeit with a 10 year layoff as opposed to just a year. Supporting yourself for a couple years in the "real world" really puts a perspective on things your 18 year-old self couldn't have had, and it worked for me.

      That said, using Facebook hasn't stopped me from clocking a 3.86 GPA since I got back. It's all about using your time more effectively.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I went back and got a two-year degree as sort of a holding pattern kind of thing. I ended with a whopping 3.42 because I was lazy in some classes. But I had great fun doing it. School is wasted on the young :)

  • There is only so much time. You can prefer to improve your social skills (unfortunately completely ignored in schools, while just as important), or your logic, art or sports skills.
    If I were 16 again, I'd definitely choose social skills. No reason in being the best programmer in the known universe, when your can't even procreate. :(
    Even worse, when you are not the best one in the known universe. ^^

    • And seeing as he made everyone who played Daikatana his bitch, I presume at least some of them were female and so he had a chance at pro-creating. What you mean nobody but me played Daikatana?

    • I think you just made a really important point that needs to be modded up. (I'm going to settle for commenting instead though.)

      A high GPA isn't everything... In fact, I'd argue that it's quite overrated.

      A truly "well balanced" individual is quite likely someone who got at least "average" grades in school, while devoting a lot of time to social skills as well.

      In the "real world", it's every bit as much "who you know" as "what you know" that determines your fate. If you happen to excel in a very specific a

  • I actually R'dTFA to check, and it doesn't seem to mention what the average grades are for the total population.

    Saying "Facebook users get 3.0-3.5, non-users get 3.5-4.0" means something very different if the average is 3.25, versus if the average of all users is 3.75. Are facebooker users dumber than your average student, or are the few users who don't have a facebook account smarter than the average student?

  • by hwyhobo (1420503) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @10:11AM (#27569981)
    Pity the study did not compare the grades of students who used other social network sites. It might possibly be that Facebook attracted people of lower learning ability than some other sites did. Studying those relationships could be interesting.
  • students who play video games, students who watch too much tv, students who eat junkfood, students who do drugs, students who
    stay up too late, students who listen to heavy metal...

    i question not the correlation between facebook and GPA, but the correlation between GPA and overall intelligence.

  • 'It may be that if it wasn't for Facebook, some students would still find other ways to avoid studying, and would still get lower grades.'

    That fits my experience as a parent exactly. I've found that if you deny your children access to one distraction, they will just find another.

    • I don't want to start a thread about correlation vs cause-effect, and I agree with your argument; despite that, Facebook is a very silly distraction and is logical to expect a correlation with its users qualifications.

      I'd expect a stronger correlation with twitter hardcore users.

      There are other ways/games to lose time, but have a correlation in opposite direction because you actually have to use your brain.

      Of course, all of these things are subjective, like most of the treats we use to assess people.

  • More details (Score:2, Insightful)

    by reg106 (256893)
    More details on the study are available in this news item from OSU [osu.edu].

    Many variables are not considered directly in the analysis (at least in the brief writeup). For example, the sample has more grad students than undergrads, and grad students were found to be less likely to use Facebook. But grad students are selected from academic high(er) achievers, and graduate courses are generally graded with a higher curve than undergrad courses. That alone could explain the correlation. So why do less grad stude
  • Wait until this hits the MSM: "Researchers warn: Facebook lowers grades!"

    The article was well written and avoided the correlation/causation fallacy that so many socialtech studies (or at least their reports) fall into.

    That disconnect between perception and reality does not necessarily mean that Facebook leads to less studying and worse grades -- the grades association could be caused by something else. However, it does raise more questions about how students spend their time outside class on activities such

  • But maybe people who make better grades, on average, have less time to pursue more frivolous activities whether those be Facebook or pocket pool.

    I'd put money on finding out that on average the members of virtually any activity that doesn't directly relate to getting better grades have lower gpa's then those people who spend most of their free time.....attempting to get better grades.

    There's a reason why most of the students who are in the 3.5 and up range constantly joke about "having no life".

  • by MrNougat (927651) <ckratsch@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @10:59AM (#27570691)

    If those GPAs are on a four-point scale, the main thing this study tells me is that college is too easy.

  • > students who spend more time enjoying themselves rather than studying might tend to latch onto the nearest distraction

    Wow. We never called it that. But we were told it we latched onto it too often we could go blind. ;)
  • I hate to actually bring it up, but the only place GPA really matters is getting a scholarship and keeping it. What the actual number is at the end of your program rarely matters. What does matter is your "networking" with others to get yourself a job. I'd think that the facebook crowd could in theory have better work related networking going on. It depends on if you socialized with various recruiters or folks from your major a couple of years ahead of you. Both sets could put you slightly ahead of others.

    W

  • 'I'm just saying that there's some kind of relationship there, and there's many third variables that need to be studied.'

    I think she's lying about not using Facebook.

  • New world? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ErichTheRed (39327) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @11:36AM (#27571275)

    That brings up a good point. Even though the survey may not be totally scientific, I can definitely see a negative correlation between any outside activity and grades. Anything like Myspace, Facebook, World of Warcraft, or any time-wasting activity robs study time.

    However, here's a thought. Current coursework focuses on constant cycles of memorization and testing in most fields. Is that really relevant anymore given the supposed "new world of work" we're about to enter? When I studied chemistry many moons ago, most of the non-lab coursework could only be aced if you studied relatively hard. Has that changed, given the fact that:

    • Increasingly, tasks that require technical expertise are being offshored, and students are focusing on more "touchy-feely" stuff like marketing and business
    • It seems like it's going to be tougher for true technical people to find jobs involving the kind of problem solving that a student used to the testing cycle is suited for
    • Absolutely everyone in the US is being pushed to go to college, reducing the percentage of "really smart" people in school and therefore reducing grades overall

    So, how much of this is Facebook and how much is just the changing college demographic? Should we change the coursework offered in schools?

    To be fair, my opinion is that we should definitely not be forcing everyone through college. Previously, we had a good mix of job opportunities for different education levels, and everything worked out. Only people who were smart enough went to college, and it wasn't an admission ticket for entry-level work like it is today. The crass way to say this is "the world needs ditch-diggers too" but it's true. Having a mix of jobs for a mix of skill levels definitely makes society better.

  • A follow-up article shows that users of the popular social networking site MySpace tend to have an even lower GPA (1.5-2.5), although results were skewed as most applicants weren't able to provide any complete, coherent thoughts.

    The study also showed that many Facebook users were actually former MySpace users. Further research will have to answer the question: in terms of average GPA, are MySpace users bringing Facebook users down?

    Users of 4chan not available for comment.

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