Reading, Writing And Algorithmetic, Social Nets Have No Bearing On School Grades
While Madison Avenues continues to ponder whether social networks truly are an advertising medium, some new research indicates that despite their growing appeal with the college crowd, they are having little or no impact on academic performance. The research, which was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Whittemore School of Business and Economics, found that heavy and light users of social networks generally had the same ratio of "good" and "bad" grades - roughly two-to-one.
The study may have bearing for marketers who are also trying to understand how social networks are influencing lifestyles, work and academic lives of consumers.
"The study indicates that social media is being integrated with rather than interfering with students' academic lives," said UNH adjunct professor Chuck Martin, whose marketing research class conducted the study.
"College students have grown up with social networks, and the study shows they are now simply part of how students interact with each other with no apparent impact on grades," added Martin, who is also director of the Center for Media Research, a unit of MediaPost Communications, the publisher of Online Media Daily.
Martin said the research should help quell fears among parents that their children are spending too much time on social networks and not enough time studying or participating in classwork.
The researchers surveyed 1,127 UNH students across a range of majors, and found that their patterns of grades were remarkably similar regardless of whether they were heavy or light users of social media.
Light users were defined as those who used social media fewer than 31 minutes per day, while heavy usage was defined as exceeding 61 minutes per day. For the purpose of the study, social media was defined as Facebook, YouTube, blogs, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn.
Sixty-three percent of heavy users received high grades, compared to 65% of light users. Researchers found similar results with lower grades. While 37% of heavy users of social media received what were defined as lower grades, 35% of light users received fell into that same category.
The study also showed that Facebook and YouTube are the most popular social media platforms with college students, with 96% of students saying they use Facebook and 84% saying they use YouTube.
Interestingly, only 20% said they use blogs, 14% said they use Twitter, a mere 12% said they use MySpace, and just 10% said they use LinkedIn.
Not surprisingly, a significant share of the respondents - 43% - said they have increased their usage of social media from a year ago. Eight percent said their increase was significant. Only 18% said it had significantly decreased.
The majority of students said they use social networks for social reasons (89%) and entertainment (79%). About a quarter of students said they use social media for educational reasons (26%), and 16% for professional reasons.