The main thing to remember is that this research is correlational, which the media does not seem to understand (no surprise). I am not saying that Facebook CAUSES poor academic performance. I am saying that the research shows that there is a RELATIONSHIP between Facebook use and academic performance. There are a host of third variables that need to be examined that are potentially influencing this relationship such as personality, work, extracurricular involvement, other distractions, etc. Also, I'm sure that if it wasn't Facebook it would be another distraction. See how they twisted my words? Fun fun...I have included the full text of her email at the bottom of my original post which I leave as an embarrassment to myself -- I should have started out by trying to reach her.
In brilliant news out of Ohio State University, a "doctoral student" in education at OSU has made the startling discovery that some undergraduates simply lack social skills, also known as being a "dork." In this press release issued by Ohio State (!) researcher Aryn Karpinski further observes that these dorks tend to have a very low participation in social network technologies such as Facebook.
HERE IS THE KEY STATISTIC:
The study found that 85 percent of undergraduates were Facebook users.Tell me, anyone, why is that critical statistic left out of all of the media coverage of this idiotic study?
One level deeper - there were a total of ONLY 102 UNDERGRADUATES included in the survey. Thus, based on 87 kids with Facebook accounts, and 15 kids without Facebook accounts, and based on their own self-reported GPAs, we can now conclude that, in Aryn's words:
Facebook is a unique phenomenon. It is the equivalent of the difference between getting an A and a B.Really? Maybe instead we should end with Aryn's own admission, courtesy of the Ohio State press release:
“For me, I think Facebook is a huge distraction,” she said.As for the graduate students included in the survey I'll simply say Be Careful Not To Get Too Much Education :-)
Aryn's email to me, explaining her research
Mr. Shelton,I advised her to be continue to be proactive and reach out to people on twitter and on blogs to tell her side of the story -- the same advice I would give to a client of The Conversation Group caught up in a similar media maelstrom. The best way to smack down idiots like me is to be gracious, entirely reasonable and authentic, as Aryn definitely was.
Yes! This coverage is a bit overwhelming. I am a doctoral student, and I am definitely not used to this kind of exposure.
Thanks for your interest in the research. As you can see, it has taken on a new life on the web, and I have to tell you that what was reported was sensationalized (The Sunday Times London, who breached the embargo on this research). Many things I said in the interview were twisted and manipulated to sound a certain way, as you guessed.
The main purpose of my study was to explore the demographic composition of a Facebook user at the college level. I also wanted to investigate academic achievement in relation to Facebook use. The major findings were that Facebook users were more likely younger, full-time, undergraduate, and STEM and Business majors (STEM = Statistics, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medical). Also, Facebook users tended to spend less time in paid work per week, more hours per week in extracurricular activities, and more hours on the Internet daily (not in my poster). I did a MANOVA with Facebook and Student Status (i.e., Undergraduate vs. Graduate) as the factors, and GPA and Hours Spent Studying as the dependent variables. I found that there was not a significant interaction between FB use and student status. This was important to rule out as a confound. As you know, graduate GPAs are typically inflated meaning that it is rare to see a graduate GPA less than 3.5. It was found that there were significant differences between users and nonusers in that users had GPAs in the 3.0 - 3.5 range and also studied in the 1 to 5 hour range per week. Nonusers had GPAs in the 3.5 - 4.0 range and studied 11 to 15 hours per week. These differences were also significant in each individual population (i.e., in the separate undergraduate and graduate populations; p < .001 for both). Which, again, this is an interesting finding because graduate GPAs rarely are that low.
The main thing to remember is that this research is correlational, which the media does not seem to understand (no surprise). I am not saying that Facebook CAUSES poor academic performance. I am saying that the research shows that there is a RELATIONSHIP between Facebook use and academic performance. There are a host of third variables that need to be examined that are potentially influencing this relationship such as personality, work, extracurricular involvement, other distractions, etc. Also, I'm sure that if it wasn't Facebook it would be another distraction. See how they twisted my words? Fun fun... Also, it's not clear what it tells us even if you do find a correlation between Facebook use and grades. One could easily argue that the latter predicts the former not the other way around (i.e., those who tend to get worse grades end up spending more time on Facebook).
I am fully aware of the limitations of my study, and merely want people, personnel at universities, researchers, parents, and students to think about this intricate relationship.
A little background on the side, this is not even my dissertation topic! I decided to do this small survey study just to get impressions and explore this area. I quickly did a poster for the conference, along with reading as much literature as possible. This is not my specialization or expertise. I am really just interested in this for fun, and plan to work on this on the side. There are many more qualified professors and individuals than me to speak on this matter. I just wanted to acknowledge this and let you know that I am learning along with everyone else.
Anyways, I would love to hear your thoughts. I am presenting this at AERA on Thursday in San Diego. If I can help out with anything else, please let me know. Thank you and talk to you soon!