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Study shows Facebook does not affect GPA

December 2, 2010

Students at UW-River Falls have learned how to manage their time spent on Facebook, so their coursework is not negatively affected, said undergraduate researcher Jill Lambach.

A group of Physical Education and Health and Human Performance majors, Amanda Flohrs, Storm Harmon, Collen Kopel and Lambach executed a study that would measure how Facebook might affect a students grade point average.

The study focused on freshmen through fifth-year students, with a variety of majors and online networking habits. Participants were assigned to keep a week long journal to record how much time was spent on Facebook and doing homework, said Lambach.

In an effort to ensure anonymity, participants’ names were not identified, she added.

“We expected that the amount of time spent on Facebook would affect students’ homework,” Harmon said. “But this was not the case.”

Past research showed that Facebook does have a negative impact on students. Those studies, however, considered focused on high school students, said Harmon.

Over the course of seven days, the UWRF student sample spent on average 90.5 minutes on the website. The group reported that of the students who spent over 300 minutes a week on the Facebook, 78 percent of them have been able to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.

Sophomores were the students responsible for the most time spent on Facebook. The students who have been in college the longest spent the least amount of time, said Lambach.

“Fifth-year students spent on average 76 minutes online, whereas sophomores spent 378.5 minutes,” Lambach said.

The researchers’ faculty mentor, Debra Allyn, said that she was more concerned about how little time freshman students spent doing homework, although this may be attributed to the number of freshmen students surveyed.

According to the study, freshman spend less than 240 minutes a week doing course work outside of class. In contrast, fifth-year students reported spending 761 minutes a week on homework.

Computer access may have an overall impact on UWRF college students over college students who are given computers, said Harmon.

“I’m happy to see that students are able to manage their time so that Facebook is not affecting their GPA,” Lambach said.

This undergraduate research was executed to fulfill a senior seminar for a Health and Human Performance requirement. The class is designated for Physical and Health Education students and Exercise and Sport Science students, said Allyn.

The group collectively selected this topic because the amount of time spent on computers has seemed to limit young people’s physical activity and overall performance, said Harmon.

“This research affects people and their everyday life,” Lambach said.

According to Facebook, there are over 500 million people registered with the networking website; 50 percent of which log onto their profiles daily.

The Facebook and GPA findings were introduced to the public in the Falcon’s Nest on Nov. 17 at the Society for Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity gala.

At the gala, students exhibit their undergraduate research. Some of the students work with professors and others work independently, said SURSCA faculty adviser, Timothy Lyden.

The researchers findings were met with positive reviews.

“They did a good job and they worked hard,” Allyn said.

Student Aaron Bergman said that he thought the Facebook and GPA relationship findings were a good start towards researching the issue. He didn’t expect to see a negative correlation between the two.

“As time goes on, more time is devoted to homework,” he said.