If you’re a student who’s reading this on Facebook, beware: It might affect your grades. Studies suggest that sites such as Facebook and Twitter, depending upon how they’re used, could positively or negatively affect student grades.
As early as April 2009, a small-scale study involving 219 students from an Ohio university found that the GPAs of Facebook users averaged around 3.0 to 3.5 as compared with 3.5 to 4.0 GPA averages for non-users. Facebook users in this study spent much less time studying than their counterparts did.
K-12 teachers in a more recent UK report from late 2010 noted that the quality of students’ homework is affected by replacing study time with Facebook and Twitter. Multi-tasking or scanning news feeds while studying has reportedly also been shown to reduce college and university grades by 20 percent.
Forward thinking instructors in an attempt to draw student attention back to their studies, have on the other hand found ways to put social networking sites to positive use: Getting students involved in their studies rather than distracted from them. A 2009 Dallas university experiment that involved making educational use of Twitter resulted in higher GPAs for students who utilized Twitter as part of their studies as compared with those in a control group who did not.
Twitter, according to one of the study’s authors, has educational value in its potential to connect people, to help them communicate and more. Social networking sites can also break down barriers between cliques and help people feel more connected, some say.
A college or university education is an investment – in some instances, one with GPA-dependent scholarships and grants attached. Students who become more involved in studies as early as the K-12 level and score well on grades are also likely to be better prepared for the demands of schools, careers and life situations that follow.