Like to Facebook? Watch your grades

  • A study has found that students who use Facebook have lower GPAs than students who do not.
  • The study also found that more undergraduate students use Facebook than graduate students, and non-users say they study more.
  • The majority of students surveyed believe Facebook use doesn't affect their GPAs.
  • The study doesn't definitively say Facebook causes lower grades, but does show there is a relationship between the two.

An exploratory study at Ohio State University found a correlation between Facebook usage and lower GPAs, potentially suggesting that Facebook can contribute to lower grades.

The survey, which polled 102 undergraduate students and 117 graduate students, revealed that, typically, students who used Facebook had GPAs that were between a 3.0 and a 3.5, whereas students who did not use Facebook had GPAs between a 3.5 and 4.0.

However, eight out of 10 students surveyed said they didn't think their use of the site negatively impacted their GPA.

The survey also found that 82 percent of the undergraduate students had Facebook accounts, but only 52 percent of the graduate students did.

Non-users also said they studied 11 to 15 hours per week, for roughly 10 hours more than users, according to the survey.

While these results may seem to imply that Facebook directly causes lower grades, Aryn Karpinski, co-author of the study, said the survey does not go any further than showing a connection between lower GPAs and Facebook usage.

"You can see there's a relationship, but not that one causes the other," said Karpinski, who is a doctoral candidate at OSU.

She and her partner, Adam Duberstein of Ohio Dominican University, presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Foundation on April 16.

Karpinski said the number of variables in the situation is too vast for her to adequately study in one survey, and it would also be hard to find a good population of students who did or did not use Facebook.

She said this is why her survey does not prove Facebook causes lower grades; other variables may also affect students.

"It would be very difficult to do this study and prove causation," said Karpinski.

Karpinski said her interest in Facebook began while she was getting her master's degree.She was working as a teaching assistant for a professor and noticed her students using and discussing Facebook.

She said she does not personally have a Facebook account, but she thought it would be an interesting subject to look into and turned it into an exploratory study.

While her specialty is not in quantitative studies like this one, she said she plans to continue working on the results of the study sometime in the future.

Some of the areas she is considering studying include looking at how faculty members view Facebook or how different extracurricular activities affect usage.

The initial survey included many different questions covering numerous variables, said Karpinski. As a result, she said she had a lot of data to sift through.

Jingyu Bao, a graduate student in the College of Communication, said she doesn't believe that Facebook has an impact on her GPA or those of other students.

"I know my fellow classmates, who have high GPAs and get straight As, are using Facebook," Bao said.

However, Nathan Dombeck, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, said he thinks that Facebook likely has a negative impact on his grades.

"Probably, it does," Dombeck said. "But I don't think it has that big of an impact. I think it's just something to kill time."