Study Links Facebook to Lower College Grades

By April 13, 2009

College students on Facebook have lower grades than those who don’t use the social network, a study by Ohio State University and Ohio Dominican University researchers concludes. "We can't say that use of Facebook leads to lower grades and less studying - but we did find a relationship there," said the report’s co-author, Aryn Karpinski, a doctoral student in education at Ohio State University. The study is credited with being the first to link Facebook usage with academic achievement. "There's a disconnect between students' claim that Facebook use doesn't impact their studies, and our finding showing they had lower grades and spent less time studying," Karpinski


85 percent of undergrads were on Facebook, but only a little more than half of graduate students were (52 percent).

While non-Facebook users had GPAs in the 3.5-4.0 range, those who used the social network were on average half-a-letter-grade lower, with GPAs in the 3.0-3.5 range.

Interestingly, there was the same split between Facebook/non-Facebook grades in graduate students as in undergrads.

One possible reason for the grade difference is that math, engineering, science and business majors spent more time on the Internet and on Facebook than students in the humanities, where grade inflation is more likely to occur. Perhaps the GPAs reflect the disciplines, not student discipline.

And Perhaps not. The most telling stat in the report is that Facebook users averaged one to five hours studying each week. Non users, on the other hand, studied 11 to 15 hours weekly.

Karpinski admits that this could simply be the case of social networking replacing other procrastination tools.

"It may be that if it wasn't for Facebook, some students would still find other ways to avoid studying, and would still get lower grades,” Karpinski said.

The research will be presented April 16th at the annual meeting of the American Educational Association in San Diego, CA.

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