Do you find you ever find yourself distracted by Facebook while you should be doing your school work? How many hours do you think you end up spending on Facebook a day? 30 minutes? 2 hours? Afraid to know? Many people, especially college students, use Facebook as a way to communicate with friends and keep others updated about their lives. However, Facebook is doing a lot more than helping us keep in touch with an old friend.
According to Time Magazine, the average college student spends 106 minutes on Facebook a day! However, something more disturbing is what that time correlates with. A recent study has found that for every additional 1.5 hours spent above the average 106 minutes on the site, your GPA will drop .12 points. One theory the study suggests is that Facebook distracts us from the school work that we have to do, leading to poorer grades. However, some scientists disagree with the explanation. For example, Charlie Osburn argues that students who use Facebook more frequently might already be part of a lower GPA group.
Although there is a negative relationship between GPA and extensive use of Facebook, the study does not prove that one causes the other. This is a perfect example of the fact that correlation does not always equal causation. I have come up with my own theory after reading the study thoroughly. I believe that if we weren’t using Facebook to distract us from our school work, we would be using something else to distract us. Therefore, I think it is us using Facebook as a distraction, not so much as Facebook distracting us.
The more I thought about this study, the more I realized there could be a third variable: Facebook’s affect on our intelligence. Could it be that the more we use Facebook, the less intelligence we become; hence, our GPA decreases? The results surprised me. According to a study conducted by Dr. Tracy Alloway, a psychologist from the University of Stirling in Scotland, Facebook use actually increases intelligence. Tracy has spent a immense amount of time throughout her scientific career studying the working memory. She explains that the working memory allows people to retain and use information, which is “a far more significant measure of the well-being and intelligence of humanity than, say, IQ”. Her study found that Facebook, unlike many other social media sites, enhances the working memory. This is due to the fact that Facebook users have to keep up with all of the friends they have on the site.
So, it can be concluded that Facebook isn’t all that bad for us. Although it may lower our GPA for unknown reasons, it will increase our intelligence! I am excited to follow up on this in the future to see if more studies have been conducted, but for now, I’ll stick with my own theory of why Facebook lowers GPA.