The Northwestern research examined three studies of students’ social media habits, and a summary of the report said researchers “found evidence that Facebook use was slightly more common among individuals with higher grades [in one of the three studies].”
Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University and a co-author of the school’s Facebook study, said despite the mixed messages of various research findings, students, parents, and faculty should be leery of students spending hours every day on Facebook.
“If somebody’s spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook at the expense of studying, his or her academic performance may suffer, just as it might from spending an excessive time on any activity,” Hargittai said. “We need more research with more nuanced data to better understand how social networking site usage may relate to academic performance.”
The New Hampshire student study revealed how ubiquitous Facebook has become among college students.
Ninety-six percent of respondents said they log on to Facebook at least once a day, while 84 percent perused YouTube, and 20 percent read various blogs. A mere 12 percent used MySpace daily, and 10 percent said they log on to LinkedIn.
“With more than 300 million active users of Facebook and with hundreds of millions of YouTube videos watched daily, it was no surprise that student usage mirrored those volumes,” Martin said.
The study also suggested that college students might regulate their use of social media web sites during the school week.
About four in 10 respondents said they increase Facebook usage during the weekends, and 24 percent cut back on Facebook time on Saturdays and Sundays.
About one-third of students said there was no change in their Facebook usage during the weekends.
The New Hampshire research also analyzed the prevalence of Facebook among certain majors. Liberal-arts majors were the most likely to qualify as heavy Facebook users, with Health and Human Services and Life Sciences ranking a close second and third.
Engineering students were the least likely to use Facebook heavily.
University of New Hampshire Facebook study
Northwestern University Facebook study
Ohio State University Facebook study