Facebook Vindicated By New Academic Research

Researchers diminish preliminary findings about Facebook's affect on studies

Thursday, May 7, 2009  |  Updated 1:39 PM CDT
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Facebook Vindicated By New Academic Research

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College students who spend too much time on Facebook suffer, but it's not the network's fault.

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Recently released findings of a "draft" study out of Ohio State University suggested that Facebook use might be related to lower academic achievement in college and graduate school.

The report caused more than a few groans among students and their tuition-paying parents, and quickly became a media sensation, picked up by hundreds of news outlets in a matter of days.

But, researchers who attempted to replicate the findings of the study found no correlation between the two, according to a release from Northwestern University News.

Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, co-authored "Facebook and Academic Performance: Reconciling a Media Sensation with Data” with Josh Pasek, a doctoral student at Stanford University. The study appears in the online journal First Monday.

The paper attempts to replicate the Ohio State results using three data sets.

"A negative relationship between Facebook use and grades was not found in the samples. Indeed, if anything, Facebook use is more common among individuals with higher grades," the First Monday posting states.

Hargittai doesn't claim, however, that extraordinary Facebook use never has a negative affect on academic performance.

“If somebody’s spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook at the expense of studying, his or her academic performance may suffer, just as it might from spending an excessive time on any activity,” Hargittai said. “We need more research with more nuanced data to better understand how social networking site usage may relate to academic performance.”

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