In research that validates what many parents and educators suspect, students with below average grades could boost their results if they quit or limit Facebook and other social networking sites.
The study, led by Dr James Wakefield from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), looked at the amount of time first-year university students spent on Facebook, and the impact it had on their grades.
The research showed that while high achieving students were not affected by the amount of time on Facebook, below average students had significantly lower grades with greater Facebook use.
“Our research shows time spent on social networking platforms puts lower academic achievers at higher risk of failing their course,” Dr Wakefield says.
however some were on the social networking site in excess of eight hours a day.
While the research applies to university students studying STEM and business degrees, it is likely to also be relevant to high school students who use social media.
More than 500 students enrolled in the first year subject ‘Introductory Accounting’ at an Australian university took part in the study, with an average age of 19.
Researchers assessed the students’ general academic achievement using their weighted average mark (WAM) across all of their studies, and surveyed them about their Facebook use.
They also controlled for other factors that might influence their achievement, such as whether they were planning to major in accounting, as well as their age and gender.
“Unlike other research on social networking use, we were able to tease out the differing impact on above average students compared to below average students,” Dr Wakefield says.
“It appears that for students with lower academic achievement, the use of social networking sites replaces study time, whereas high achieving students are able to juggle both,” he says.
“Try to get into a mode where you can study without looking at your phone or logging on to social networking sites,” he suggests.
“Some educators have embraced sites such as Facebook as a tool for engagement, learning and group assignments,” says Dr Wakefield.