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IMPACT OF FACEBOOK USAGE ON THE ACADEMIC GRADES: A CASE STUDY

Lamia M. Ketari and Mohammadi A. Khanum

Abstract— This paper raises the question about the potential impact of Facebook usage upon undergraduate students time, and ultimately their academic performance, usually measured by Grade Point Average (GPA). The purpose of this study is to investigate if there is any relationship between Facebook use and student’s GPA. We based our study on the hypothesis that Facebook usage has a negative effect on the academic grades of students. Data were collected using self-administered questionnaires completed by over 100 female students from the department of Information Technology (IT) in the College of Computer and Information Sciences at King Saud University (KSU). The study findings showed that 55% of the students feel that the use of Facebook or Socail Networking Sites (SNSs) could be negatively related to their academic performance. Hence, our hypothesis found a partial support from the results of the case study.

Index Terms— Social Networking Sites, Facebook, Academic Performance

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1 INTRODUCTION

o VER the past few years, SNSs have become more

religion among the college students. SNSs are formed by the connection of many online communities leading towards the sharing of information, knowledge, cultural values, and much more. The first official SNS was the Classmates.com, which was found in 1995. Its main purpose was to provide the students with a mean to connect during or after their degree completion. Two years later, SixDegree.com was created , leading towards the chain of emergence of other SNSs, the Cyworld in 2001, Friendster and Skyblog in 2002, Orkut in 2004, Myspace in 2005, Yahoo 360 in 2005, Twitter and Facebook in the year 2006 [1] . Founded in 2004, Facebook is a SNS that was originally designed for the use of college age students, and operated under restriction to keep it so. Rosen [2] explains that the name Facebook originates from “the small photo albums that colleges once gave to incoming freshmen and faculty to help them cope with meeting so many new people”. The college age demographic restriction only lasted two years until 2006 when it’s founders decided to make it open to the public, so long as a person has a valid email address and the computer skills necessary to create a profile [3]. There are three main unique features to most SNS sites and to

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Lamia.M.Ketari is with the Department of IT at CCIS, King Saud Univer- sity, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Mohammadi.A.Khanum is with the Department of IT at CCIS, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Facebook in particular: profiles, friends, and public commenting features like ‘the wall’ and live news feed [4]. People join SNS in order to share information about themselves and learn more about those they consider ‘friends’ [5].

2

MOTIVATIONS

This research has conceptual value because social net- works are becoming part of our lives. Especially , Face- book has become part of college students’ everyday lives. Compared to the other social networks users, Facebook users are the most engaged. According to Infographic statistics, 52% users visit Facebook daily, beating out oth- ers for daily visitors, such as Twitter (36%), MySpace (7%), and LinkedIn (6%) [6]. Facebook Inc. said that “it reached the 1 billion active monthly users threshold and is up more than 50 million users since june 2012” [7]. One of the Facebook usage statistics reveals that 48% of 18-34 years old check Facebook when they wake up, with 28% doing so before even getting out of bed. The core 18-24 years old segment is now growing the fastest at 74% year on year [8]. “The median age of a Facebook user was 22” [7]. In late 2010, the EDUCAUSE Centre for Applied Re- search (ECAR) study of 36,950 students from 126 US uni- versities and one Canadian university revealed that out of the 90% students who used social networking sites, 97% students used Facebook [9]. The greatest motivating fac- tor for students to use SNS is to connect to others and to socialize. Some have the difficulty disengaging from their social life. For some, it even raises their anxiety level to be without their cell phones for a few hours [10]. Students are not only using Facebook to socialize, but also they are increasingly living their social lives in a world without caring that adults are watching out for them. Harassing language is normalized, the sexualization of girls/women is common-place, and the lack of supervision creates an

“anything goes” wild-wild-west [10].

The increased focuss on the Facebook usage has attracted many researchers to explore its pros and cons. In this pa- per, we investigate the impact of Facebook usage on aca- demic performance of the students. To achieve this, we have formulated the following hypothesis:

“Facebook usage has a negative effect on the students’ academic performance”

3 LITERATURE REVIEW

This paper targets Facebook due to its popularity. It is a social networking site that allows users to create accounts in which users can add their personal information, post pictures, and connect with others. Currently, there is not a lot of evidence about Facebook’s usage for college stu- dents. The review of literature is important because there are different opinions regarding the impact of Facebook on the students’ academic performance and their grades. We have categorized the literature review in to two sec- tions, one supporting our hypothesis and the other one not supporting our hypothesis.

3.1 Related Work Supporting Hypothesis

In [11] and [12], the authors reported that students who use Facebook have lower GPAs and spend less time stud- ying than non-users. Authors surveyed 219 students (102 undergraduate students and 117 graduate students) at Ohio state university. The findings showed that 85 % of undergraduates and 52% of graduate students were Face- book users. Also, the study found that GPAs of Facebook users typically ranged a full grade point lower than those of nonusers (3.0 to 3.5 for users versus 3.5 to 4.0 for their non-networking peers). Karpinski states “there’s a dis- connect between student’s claim that Facebook use does not impact their studies,and our finding showing they had lower grades and spent less time studying”. In fact, the results showed that Facebook non-users reported spending more time studying than did Facebook users, whereas 79% of Facebook members did not believe there was any link between their GPA and their networking habits. Karpinski said that there is no enough data to con- clude that there is a positive raw correlation between Fa- cebook and lower grades. However, she said that “there may be other factors involved, such as personality traits, that link Facebook use and lower grades”. In [12], Paul A. Kirschner and Aryn C. Karpinski con- ducted an investigation to examine if there are any differ- ences in the academic performance (measured by GPA) of college students who use Facebook and those who don’t use Facebook. Assuming that Facebook use is an activity carried out while studying, or attending a lecture or a workgroup, findings showed that Facebook users re- vealed having lower GPAs and spend less time studying than non-users.

In [13], authors conducted a study on the effects of Fa- cebook usage by undergraduate students at Lulea Uni-

versity of Technology in Sweden. Authors surveyed 239 undergraduate students. Results reported that intensive usage of Facebook by students, with extraverted perso- nalities, leaded to poor academic performance, whereas students who are more self-regulated control more effec- tively their presence on Facebook, hence limiting the ap- parent negative effect on their academic achievement. The authors said that “the results help students to understand the preliminary consequences of their extensive usage of Facebook and to better manage their social activities on this platform”.

In his research [14], Reynol Junco concluded that time spent on Facebook was strongly and significantly nega- tively related to overall GPA, while only weakly related to time spent preparing for class. Surveyed students were from universities in northeastern United States. A total of 1839 surveys were completed online, and the results showed that students who spend more time on Facebook and/or check their Facebook page often, tend to have lower GPAs. The findings showed certain patterns of Fa- cebook use that are related to lower academic achiev- ment. In fact, it has been noticed that large amounts of time spent posting status updates could predict lower GPAs. Also, higher proportion of time spent chatting on Facebook chat could predict less time spent studying.

3.2 Related Work Not Supporting Hypothesis

Melissa Rachel [15] used the available published research on Facebook and SNSs to analyze how Manchester col- lege students use Facebook. In the survey, she used 85 students, which comprise of 43 female volunteers and 42 male volunteers. These volunteers were given surveys that included questions about whether Facebook was a useful tool. The results indicate that there were lots of similarities between female and male students usage of the Facebook. Students chose Facebook for chatting, writ- ing wall posts on each other’s profiles, and viewing and adding pictures. The main difference between the two sexes was the time spent on Facebook. Males used Face- book less per day (spending about thirty minutes or less) than females. Ishaf et.al.[16] explored the relationship between SNSs practices and academic performance of the students by exploring the relationship of SNS usage with their study- ing habits. One thousand students were chosen from dif- ferent universities of Pakistan (private and public). Per- sonally administrated questionnaires were used as data collection tool showing the response rate of 73%. The re- sults indicate a significant difference of use of SNSs be- tween male and female students. Male students were more inclined towards use of these sites than female stu- dents. Studying habits of the students were found to be significantly affected by the time spend on leisure activi- ties, time spent on Internet, time spent on using SNSs, and basic purpose of using SNS. There was not any sig- nificant effect of leisure activities and purpose of using Internet on studying habits of the student users.

In [17], the author conducted a research study at a histori- cally black university in the southern part of the United States to examine the impact of Facebook usage on the academic performance and the quality of life of college students. The study was conducted with 209 participants. 57.9% of the participants were females and 82.8% were between the ages of 18 to 23 years. The results indicate that female students reported higher GPAs than male students. However, the number of hours spent per week on Facebook did not influence the student’s academic performance. In [18], the authors conducted a study to examine the im- pact of social networking sites, such as Twitter and Face- book, usage on the grades of the college students. The study was carried out on the students of Liberal Arts Col- lege in the Midwest. The findings suggest that GPA did not play a role in the use of any of the major social net- working tools and number of minutes spent on several of the sites did not differ. The major difference lays in the time spent on Facebook, which did show a negative rela- tionship between time spent on the social network and student’s grades.

Similar study was conducted by Chuck Martin [19] at the University of New Hampshire to determine whether there is a correlation between heavy usage of social media and grades. The findings suggest that the most popular online network was Facebook. Infact, 96% of all universi- ty students use Facebook on a typical day. The study found that there was no correlation between heavy social media usage and student’s grades.

4 CASE STUDY

In order to examine the impact of Facebook usage on the students’ final grades, we drafted a self-administered questionnaire. Some of the questions are listed below.

1. Do you think that you have enough time to study?

2. Do you think you can improve your GPA if you have more available time to study?

3. How do you spend your leisure time?

4. Select the social networking site that is mostly used by you.

5. What features do you use on Facebook?

6. How many hours on average do you spend on Facebook?

7. Do you spend more time on Facebook rather than studying?

8. Do you feel that Facebook (or other SNSs) has negative impact on your performance in studies?

4.1 Participants

The questionnaire was given to the undergraduate students from the IT department at CCIS, KSU in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Since we surveyed a female college, data were collected from females undergraduate students

which are in the age group of 20-22 years. We received responses from 100 students. All respondents are in the final year of their degree. Also, respondents’ cumulative GPAs have been collected to explore if Facebook usage (and SNSs) could affect negatively students’GPAs.

4.2 Findings

Table 1 illustartes the SNSs usage based on the type. The collected data indicated that 81% of the participants are using Social Networking Sites, mainly: Facebook and Twitter. “Multiple” represents using more than one SNS. “DNA” represents the group which didn’t answer that question. “No SNS” are those students who have no SNS accounts and do not use any SNS.

Table1: SNSs usage based on the type

Facebook

41%

Twitter

41%

My Space

0%

Other

5%

Multiple

9%

No SNS

3%

DNA

2%

Table 2 shows that 74% of the participants claim that they do not have enough time to study.

Table 2: Enough time to study

Yes

21%

No

74%

DNA

5%

Table 3 shows that 94% of the participants feel that GPA can be improved if they have more time to study.

Table 3: GPA can be improved if more time is available to study

Yes

94%

No

4%

DNA

2%

Table 4 shows that only 28% of the participants spend their leisure time in studies, whereas 66% of respondents take benefit of their leisure time to perform other activities. Out of

the many leisure activities, socializing on SNS is more preve- lant.

Table 4: Spending leisure time

Studying

28%

Socializing on SNS

32%

Shopping

7%

Visiting

 

friends/relatives

24%

Multiple activities

3%

DNA

6%

Table 5 shows that 84% of the participants claim that they do not spend more time on Facebook than they spend on stu- dies.

Table 5: Spend more time on Facebook than studying

Yes

4%

No

84%

Sometimes

10%

DNA

2%

Table 6 shows that 55% of the participants admit that Face- book usage has or could have negative impact on their grades.

Table 6: Negative impact of Facebook use on grades

Yes

18%

No

43%

Sometimes

37%

DNA

2%

5 DISCUSSION

We categorized the users who spend less than 30 minutes in a given day on Facebook as the non-Facebook users, whereas the ones who spend more than 30 minutes as Facebook users. We found that 62% of the students fall under the non-Facebook users category and 38% under Facebook users category. We compared their GPAs, the findings are shown in table 7. On the other hand, 18% of the students admitted that that the use of Facebook or SNSs could be negatively related to their academic per- formance, and 37% believe that sometimes it could be the case. In addition, 74% of the participants claim that they do not have enough time to study. However, only 28% of the participants spend their leisure time on studying, even though that 94% of the participants think that their GPA could be improved if more time is available to study.

Table 7: Average GPAs of non-Facebook users and Face- book users

Users’

Total Users

Average

Category

GPA

Non-

   

Facebook

62%

4.29

Facebook

38%

3.65

6

CONCLUSION

The main objective of this study is to explore the po- tential negative effects of Facebook usage on students’ academic performance, usually measured by GPA. Based on the related work, we noticed that there are conflicting studies on the topic and that the question needs extensive research. More research and studies from different pers- pectives can help to actually understand the influence the Facebook usage has on the academic performance of stu- dents.

Hypothesis Revisited: The study findings show that 55% of the students feel that the use of Facebook or SNSs could be negatively related to their academic perfor- mance.However, the current study has some limitations. First, the academic performance was measured using on- ly data from female students. We do believe that a more accurate representation could be achieved if the same data were collected from male students. Second, collected data were only from students in the final year of their degree. Finally, the following variables: (1) time spent on leisure activities; (2) time spent on studying; were not measured accurately (in terms of number of hours) in the questionnaire to show evidence that SNSs usage signifi- cantly affect the studying habits of students, and even- tually their academic performance.

As future work, we plan to improve the current study by focusing on the time spent on studying, leisure activi- ties, and how they are related to psychological perspec- tive, in order to conclude whether or not SNSs interfere with undergraduate students’ academic performance. In addition, we plan to investigate if the cultural and geo- graphical aspects could influence the use of SNSs’ and possibly, lead to different results regarding the relation- ship between the educational performance of students and the use of SNSs.

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