Fight the urge! By spending less time on Facebook and other social media sites, you may be able to boost your grades.
That’s according to a new study conducted by researchers in Sydney, Australia. They evaluated how social media use influenced the exam scores of more than 500 first-year college students.
The researchers found that low-performing students experienced an average 10-percent decline in their exam scores if they used Facebook for more than a few hours a day. High-performing students, on the other hand, were not significantly affected by social media use.
“Our research shows time spent on social networking platforms puts lower academic achievers at higher risk of failing their course,” James Wakefield, lead author of the study and senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney’s business school, said in a statement.
On average, the students included in the study spent about two hours per day on Facebook, but some were on the platform for more than eight hours a day.
“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 continued.”We found that if they used Facebook for three hours a day — not substantially higher than the average of just under two hours — the difference was around six marks in a 60-mark exam or 10 percent.”
Unplug from social media
Against their better judgement, students commonly take study breaks to scroll through memes or check what their friends are sharing on social media. This study proves that while some students are able to get away with it and not see any decline in their grades, others aren’t so fortunate.
“It appears that for students with lower academic achievement, the use of social networking sites replaces study time, whereas high-achieving students are able to juggle both,” Wakefield said in a statement.
So, low-performing students could benefit from turning off notifications while studying or quitting social media altogether.
“Try to get into a mode where you can study without looking at your phone or logging on to social networking sites,” Wakefield continued.
Interestingly enough, some students have already decided to log off social media. A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 44 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds have recently deleted Facebook from their cell phones. And further evidence suggests they are quitting social media altogether.
It doesn’t matter how social media is used
At this point, Facebook and other social media sites are not only about checking in with family and friends. The platforms are also used to spread knowledge and information. Now, nearly 70 percent of Americans at least occasionally turn to social media to get their news.
However, this study finds it doesn’t matter how students use social media. Even when using Facebook for primarily educational purposes, the low-performing students in this study still experienced drops in their exam scores.
Wakefield cautions professors against using social media sites to communicate with students.
“Some educators have embraced sites such as Facebook as a tool for engagement, learning and group assignments,” Wakefield said in a statement. “However our research suggests educators should use Facebook only for a specific purpose, rather than to communicate with students more generally.”
Although this study specifically involved college students, the findings are also expected to apply to those still in high school.
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Jackson Schroeder is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.A. in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School. He is originally from Savannah, Georgia. Jackson has covered a wide range of topics, including sustainability, technology, sports, culture, travel, and music. He plays bass and guitar, and enjoys playing and listening to live music in his free time.