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Report: Facebook Use Affects GPA in Freshmen, Not Seniors

Facebook use has a negative effect on GPA for freshmen. For sophomores and juniors, it has a negative effect on GPA only if they're doing their schoolwork at the same time. For seniors, Facebook has no effect on GPA, according to a new study. However, the difference may be explained by better self-regulation skills in senior students, rather than Facebook use itself.

The study, "Student Class Standing, Facebook Use and Academic Performance," was conducted by researchers at Iowa State University and published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. The researchers surveyed 1,649 college students about their Facebook use.

The survey found that while students in all stages of their college education used Facebook, the way they used it varied. College freshmen spent an average of two hours a day on Facebook, more than half of which time they were also studying. However, seniors used Facebook for shorter periods of time. The findings suggest that the negative relationship between Facebook use and GPA has more to do with self-regulation than with Facebook itself, according to Reynol Junco, associate professor of education at Iowa State University, and senior students may be better at managing distractions.

"Freshmen have all of these adjustment issues," said Junco in a prepared statement. "They come to college and they don't know what to do, because they don't have a parent or teacher telling them when to study, what to eat, or when to go to bed. They haven't developed the self-regulation skills that they need."

Some Facebook activities, such as sharing links and checking in with friends, have a positive effect on GPA, according to a news release from Iowa State U. "Students use social media to make friends and create the support network they need," said Junco. "If they're committed to their social circles, then they're also committed to their institution, and that's a major part of academic success."

The full study is available for purchase as a downloadable PDF from ScienceDirect.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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