Your Brain on Facebook

If surfing the web increases workplace productivity, what does spending time on Facebook do to college students? According to a study by Aryn Karpinski and Adam Duberstein, college students who use Facebook have lower GPA’s and devote less time to studying than other students. While the study didn’t prove causality — do low-GPA, anti-study students self-select into Facebook? — could this be early evidence of a Facebook Brain Drain? [%comments]

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  1. sara says:

    I also have to wonder who that group of non-facebook students is, to be honest. At this point, pretty much EVERYONE I know is on facebook. There are a few holdouts, but I would have to guess those who continue to refuse to use facebook are:
    a) highly motivated and principled (and thus able to withstand very heavy peer pressure to join)–and that might be correlated with high GPA
    b) don’t have any friends (and thus can spend all their time studying)
    I guess I just have to wonder how big that non-facebook control group is and whether there is something peculiar about them, rather than this being an overall facebook effect. Then again, maybe facebook usage is different in different areas (though the sense that not being on facebook is an outlier position has held constant over my last year of undergrad, my first three years of grad school (where I am still), and non-school friends from church, etc. who either still are undergrads or went to college).

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  2. JeremyN says:

    I don’t see there being a causal relationship. I believe its that students who are easily distracted flock to Facebook as the new thing to be distracted with.

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  3. Jesse says:

    Or it could just be correlation…ie, students who don’t use FB are smarter to begin with. Also, given how universal facebook is, a student who doesn’t use it is probably often going to be some weird social outcast type who is going to have a lot of study time on their hands.

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  4. Annie says:

    I’m not convinced by this study, particularly given that the researchers’ independent variable was whether or not the students had facebook accounts. Such a high percentage of students have the accounts that not having one really says something about a student’s personality (i.e. you are already probably an introverted person if you dont’ have one.) I think a more interesting study would look at the average hours on facebook a week in comparison with student GPAs. There are plenty of people who have facebook profiles and look at them once a week.

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  5. Ryan says:

    I agree with the other comments – who in the world isn’t using facebook? It definitely says something about someone now if they aren’t on. They either are computer illiterate, old, or a social outcast. They need to do a study about average time per day or use of external applications and how they correlate with GPA.

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  6. AR says:

    According to the article, almost 80% of the students in the non-Facebook-using group were graduate students. Usually, students in graduate school have self-selected to be a group of very bright, dedicated students who tend to have high gpas regardless, this was not very convincing. This could easily have skewed the results in favor of non-Facebook-users.

    Not to mention the fact that the study polled only 200 or so students.

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  7. Andrew says:

    Just a hunch, but I’m guessing the study might have attributed “heavy usage” of Facebook to the lower GPA’s, rather than just students with FB accounts. It would be similar to studies about GPA’s v. heavy video gamers in the 90′s.

    (I’m too busy looking through Facebook photos to actually read the study, so I’m not sure.)

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  8. Bill says:

    The real question is hours of use on facebook vs. GPA.

    The very few students who do not use facebook most likely actively avoid it because it is distracting to them, thus spending more time studying.

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