Higher academic achievement linked to less preoccupation with social media

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In recent years, researchers have gotten a better grip on the effects of excessive social media usage. While excessive use may lead to mental health problems, new research suggests it may also have an impact on academia.

Appearing in the online journal Computers & Education, a recent report by researchers at the University of Technology Sydney found that less time spent on social media websites, like Facebook, could result in higher academic performance, based on a study of students in adolescence and early-adulthood.

For the study, researchers assessed the academic performance of over 500 students enrolled at an Australian University, using their weighted average mark. Specific factors taken into account included gender, age, and academic major. The participants were then assessed to determine how often they utilized social media.

According to the report, below average students who exhibited excessive Facebook use were linked to decreased academic performance.

“Lower achieving students may already be grappling with self-regulation and focus, so it seems time spent on Facebook provides a further distraction from studies,” the report indicated.

“We found that if they used Facebook for three hours a day — not substantially higher than the average of just under two hours — the difference was around six marks in a 60 mark exam or 10%.”

“Unlike other research on social networking use, we were able to tease out the differing impact on above average students compared to below average students. It appears that for students with lower academic achievement, the use of social networking sites replaces study time, whereas high achieving students are able to juggle both.”

Although social media usage can be an effective tool for learning and group assignment, researchers suggest reducing social media usage to improve academic performance.

“Some educators have embraced sites such as Facebook as a tool for engagement, learning and group assignments,” the study states. “Try to get into a mode where you can study without looking at your phone or logging on to social networking sites.”