Periodically checking Facebook while doing homework negatively affects college students’ grades, but using the website also helps to build and maintain relationships, according to a recent Iowa State University study.
Reynol Junco, education associate professor at Iowa State University, conducted a survey of 1,649 college students and found that Facebook use, especially when trying to study, negatively impacts the majority of students’ GPAs.
“Other research [had] looked at multitasking — how students use Facebook for class and while they’re studying — and found negative relations,” Junco said. “There was a separate study where I found that using Facebook helps students build and maintain relationships, which is still very important.”
Junco categorized Facebook use into two categories: “multitasking time,” when students use Facebook while attempting to study, and “regular time.” Junco said Facebook use while multitasking contributed to lower grades for all students participating in the study, except seniors. Regular Facebook use, though, only affected freshman’s grades.
Junco said the negative effect of Facebook use on freshmen’s grades is offset by the gains in interpersonal relationships.
“Freshmen need to use Facebook to maintain their previous group of friends, and they’re also building and maintaining new relationships, which is essential for them to be successful,” Junco said.
Psychology junior Yann Garcia said she thinks her personal use of Facebook does not affect her grades.
“I use Facebook like no other, and my GPA is fine compared to others who use it less but are bad studiers or [have] harder majors,” Garcia said.
Psychology senior Alyssa Salinas said she also thinks Facebook is not a factor in her GPA.
“I use Facebook mainly to keep up with spirit organizations’ events and details,” Salinas said. “I don’t think it affects my grades because I don’t really spend countless hours on it — unlike Netflix.”
Junco said he thinks Facebook is a helpful tool for showcasing users’ individual personalities.
“Many people think about how Facebook is bad,” Junco said. “It’s not about Facebook causing lower grades. It’s self-regulation skills that impact how students use Facebook, and that affects GPA.”