Study finds link between Facebook use, lower grades in college

Though not directly related to political science, this study has been floating around the Interwebs for a couple of days now. Apparently some Ohio State grad students have found that those who use Facebook in college get lower grades:

Study finds link between Facebook use, lower grades in college.

Read it, it’s interesting. Interestingness aside, though, this study seems a bit dubious, as well as what one could expect from the anti-social networking crowd.

So what? Saying that those who spend copious amounts of time on Facebook get lower grades is like saying those who spend a lot of time watching TV (instead of studying) get lower grades. Or those who play frisbee out on the library lawn (instead of studying) get lower grades. Or… you get the point.

There will always be students who will use whatever distraction is available in order to avoid studying, and in effect receive lower grades. What do you think? There are certain causal inferences here (though I think causation has been implied more by journalists than the researchers, big surprise) that are a bit risky. Reminds me of the continued freaking out over violent video games; are video games making kids violent, or are those predisposed to violence just more attracted to playing them? I think the same goes for this.. correlation does not imply causation.


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5 Responses to Study finds link between Facebook use, lower grades in college

  1. Ari Kohen says:

    Clearly this is wrong. I mean, it depends on the students and on when they’re using Facebook. If they on Facebook while I’m lecturing, then they’ve got problems. But if they’re using it as a study break or to work on a class project, it shouldn’t affect their grades.

    As I mentioned to Doug earlier today, I’d be interested to see if – fifteen years ago – playing intramural sports was an indicator of lower GPA.

  2. jpbraun says:

    Spurious. Time is obviously finite or zero-sum, so if you spend more time on Facebook you spend less time studying (other things being equal). You could also find a link between “increased time staring at Aardvarks ” and lower grades.

  3. Jake says:

    Of course! I really gotta cut back on my aardvark time.

    Hilarious, Joe!

  4. It was only a matter of time, and the rebukers are not small beans either.

    The study reminds me a bit of a paper I saw presented at Midwest; the grad student had a great data set and interesting findings, but keyed in on what he thought was most interesting: that those who urge others to participate are eccentrics. As they urge more people to vote, the eccentricity diffuses, causing more eccentrics to take part in politics (!?). I remember thinking that the conclusion sounded more like a tabloid headline than real research. Kind of like the initial Facebook research.

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