May 8, 2009 3:17:46 pm
A new study may allay fears that Facebook use is related to lower college academic grades.
Last month,an unpublished study suggested that using the popular social networking site could lead to diminished grades.
However,those findings did not replicate in the new research.
“We found no evidence that Facebook use correlates with lower academic achievement,” said Eszter Hargittai,associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University.
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For the study,the researchers used relevant information from three existing data sets a sample of more than 1,000 undergraduates from the University of Illinois,Chicago; a nationally representative cross sectional sample of 14- to 22-year-olds; and a nationally representative longitudinal panel of American youth aged 14- to 23.
They,however,could not detect a significant negative relationship between grade point averages and Facebook use.
“I suspect that basic Facebook use what these studies measure simply doesnt have generalizable consequences for grades,” said Hargittai.
According to the study,the doubts about the use of social networking sites with respect to students are reminiscent of those cast on earlier new media,including TV and motion pictures,and their effect on children.
“The Internet and social networking sites in particular can be used in many ways,some of which may be beneficial to the user and others less so. More important than whether people use these sites is what they do on them. Cultivating relationships,for example,can lead to positive outcomes,” said Hargittai.
The researchers,however,insist that their findings should not be taken to mean that Facebook use can never have deleterious effects on academic performance.
“If students are spending excessive time on Facebook at the expense of studying,their academic performance may suffer,just as it might by spending excessive time on another activity,” said Hargittai.
He added: “We need more research with more nuanced data to better understand how social networking site usage may relate to academic performance.”
The study has been published in the online journal First Monday.
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