Monday, April 20, 2009

Does Facebook Hurt Your Grades? Can Twitter Make You Smarter? What About YouTube?

Does Facebook hurt your grades? This may be the question that parents everywhere will soon be asking their children. There is the argument that students cannot blame Facebook because if Facebook did not exist, they would find another distraction. However, Facebook users under parental supervision will probably have scant praise for the researchers from Ohio State University who have shown that the majority of students who use Facebook every day are underachieving by as much as an entire grade, compared with those who shun the site. See the story in the Times here.

The researchers discovered that students who spend their time accumulating friends, chatting and “poking” others on the site may devote as little as one hour a week to their academic work. “It is the equivalent of the difference between getting an A and a B,” said one of the researchers, Karpinski. Of course, this does not account for selection bias and unobserved characteristics. Also, the researchers have not yet analysed whether a student’s grades continue to deteriorate the longer he or she spends on Facebook. So the same individuals have not been tracked over time.

A new YouTube offering may take up as much of students' time as a Facebook account, though it may help their grades. "YouTube University" has gathered together all the video channels of the universities and colleges it's partnered with over the years and put them under the YouTube EDU banner. One of the videos (below) is from the University of Minnesoata and is about using Twitter, Wikis and instant messaging in the classroom.

Educational researcher Cynthia Lewis says that the use of social media in the classroom serves two purposes. The first is catching the attention of students and increasing their participation in the classroom. The second is preparing them for communicating in tomorrow's new media landscape. She says that "21st century literacies are all about digital media".

While it may be the case that too much Facebook can hurt your grades, doing the right amount of social networking through online platforms can help your career and is also a lot of fun. Plus, it may help learning in the classroom.


Michael Daly said...
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Michael Daly said...

It's pretty impressive/scary how this unpublished research finding a correlation between time wasting and bad grades made it to news articles worldwide..

Martin Ryan said...

Aryn Karpinski is a doctoral candidate at Ohio State University and recently presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association.

The story has also made it into Time magazine:

Karpinski says she isn't surprised by her findings but clarifies that the study does not suggest that Facebook directly causes lower grades, merely that there's some relationship between the two factors. "Maybe [Facebook users] are just prone to distraction. Maybe they are just procrastinators," Karpinski told in a phone interview on Monday, April 13.

Kevin Denny said...

Impressive?Depressing I'd say. When it comes to research, there's plenty of room at the bottom.

Michael Daly said...

Impressive in the power of the media to distribute a research based article globally.. though depressing in the quality of the research 'psychology student finds negative correlation between something parents dislike (facebook usage, tv viewing, computer games, eating badly, smoking... etc) and something parents like (usually grades!)'

Martin Ryan said...

More on this here in the Wall Street Journal:

"College students who have defriended Facebook after news broke of a link between the social-network site and lower grades, or younger users whose parents have made them, can rest easy. The grade numbers arise from a study that is preliminary -- so much so that it cries out for further study even more than many other pilot experiments."