Friday, April 17, 2009

Use Facebook, Get low grades?

There's a new reason to stay away from Facebook, if a new study from Ohio PhD candidates is to be believed. According to the study, college students who use the social network have significantly lower grade-point averages  than those who do not. The study surveyed undergraduate and graduate students and found that GPAs of Facebook users typically ranged a full grade point lower than those of nonusers. But the study also says that most of Facebook members did not believe there was any link between their GPA and their networking habits.

The authors clarify that the study does not suggest that Facebook directly causes lower grades, merely that there's some relationship between the two factors. "Maybe [Facebook users] are just prone to distraction. Maybe they are just procrastinators," said one of the authors.

Hmm, does the study indicate that I, and my 90 friends, are less intelligent? Or if not, are we procrastinators? Or are we easily distracted?

Other earlier studies have warned that social networks were "infantilizing the brain into the state of small children" by shortening the attention span and providing constant instant gratification. A new book, iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, warns of desensitizing effects of social networks and other modern technology to reading real-life facial expressions and understanding the emotional context of subtle gestures.

The study may have its flaws and there are definitely other distractions aside from the social network sites. Facebook tries to defend itself by pointing out a study released earlier this month showing that personal Internet use at work can help focus workers' concentration and increase productivity. Facebook also said that "it's in the hands of students, in consultation with their parents, to define priorities and decide how to spend their time." That is equally true with the workforce and management. Facebook is saying don't blame us, blame the users.

People do spend a lot of time logged onto Facebook. A Nielsen report earlier revealed that social networks are the fastest rising segment of the Internet. Educators are iked with students who post messages more than listen to lectures. Management is equally up in arms. Offices have banned Facebook, etal., on their corporate computer networks. But there's no stopping this surge.

I found a lot of former classmates through the social networks, particularly Facebook. We are now happily reminiscing, catching up, and once again sharing heartaches, pleasures, ideas. Facebook did its function famously, it connected me with my past friends. It is the educators' and management's turn to find ways to do their jobs amidst these technological innovations.

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