Want to boost your grades? Get off Facebook, researchers say

Kevin Wheeler


Published 3: 45 PM EST Nov 11, 2019

As it turns out, using Facebook probably won’t make you any better at reading real books. In fact, cutting back on Facebook could boost students’ grades, according to some recent research from the University of Technology Sydney.

Researchers, led by Dr. James Wakefield, analyzed the grades of over 500 freshman students from an introductory accounting class at an Australian university and found that the more time they spent using Facebook, the worse their grades were. 

For example, students who reported using Facebook for three hours a day or more had test scores about 10% lower than those who used Facebook less often. 

This three-hour mark is significant because it is close to the average amount of time students were found to use Facebook: two hours. Some students, however, reported using Facebook for as many as eight hours.

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While accounting for age, gender and whether or not a student was an accounting major, the findings also revealed a split between the effects of Facebook on high achieving students and low achieving students. Wakefield looked at students’ WAM, or weighted average mark, to determine which students were “high achieving.” High-performing students showed no difference in grades, regardless of their time spent on Facebook, whereas lower-achieving students appeared to be most affected by their Facebook use. 

“Lower-achieving students may already be grappling with self-regulation and focus, so it seems time spent on Facebook provides a further distraction from studies,” Wakefield said in a statement. 

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Wakefield, an accounting education specialist, suggested that students with below-average grades might benefit from switching off notifications on their phones and cutting down on their time spent on Facebook. 

According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of Americans ages 18-29 use social media, and 74% of Facebook users check the site every day. As of 2018, 80% of Americans age 18-24 use Facebook.

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