My daughter is hooked on Facebook. Should I be worried?

According to recent research by a group of marketing students at the University of New Hampshire, probably not. After talking with over 1000 college students, researchers concluded that social media use of up to an hour a day has no impact on student grades.

The student researchers classified light users of social media as respondents who spent less than 31 minutes every day on social networking sites. Heavy users, according to the study, spent more than an hour daily on social media sites.

Sixty-three percent of heavy users earned high grades—A’s and B’s—while 65 percent of light users received high marks

And while I can question methods, survey group, question types and perhaps even the researchers themselves, it does raise an interesting topic:

  • Has the use of Facebook and other social media such as Twitter and Youtube changed even in the last few years? And if it has, has the change had any impact on grades?
  • Perhaps most important, has the use of social media by kids impacted their learning?

Chuck Martin, the professor whose class conducted the study, suggests yes.

(The use of social networks) has evolved so that people dip in and dip out. They use it in short spurts. They may be using social media 30 seconds at a time, rather than 30 minutes at a time.

The result?

. . . students have grown up with social networks (and) they are now simply part of how students interact with each other, with no apparent impact on grades.

My experience with my own kids would support Martin and the findings of his students. My kids are on Facebook, they do use YouTube as well as other Web 2.0 tools. But I don’t see them heads down in their laptops for hours on end. Like Martin said, they “dip in and out.”

But are they smarter or dumber? Of course, since they have their mother’s genes, they were pretty bright to begin with but I not sure I can answer that question. How do you truly measure that kind of impact?

Farrell, Rolland. “Facebook Ilustration.” 19 February 2009. 12 January 2010.

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