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IMPACT OF FACEBOOK USAGE ON THE

ACADEMIC GRADES: A CASE STUDY


Lamia M. Ketari and Mohammadi A. Khanum

Abstract This paper raises the question about the potential impact of Facebook usage upon undergraduate students time,
and ultimately their academic performance, usually measured by Grade Point Average (GPA). The purpose of this study is to
investigate if there is any relationship between Facebook use and students GPA. We based our study on the hypothesis that
Facebook usage has a negative effect on the academic grades of students. Data were collected using self-administered
questionnaires completed by over 100 female students from the department of Information Technology (IT) in the College of
Computer and Information Sciences at King Saud University (KSU). The study findings showed that 55% of the students feel
that the use of Facebook or Socail Networking Sites (SNSs) could be negatively related to their academic performance. Hence,
our hypothesis found a partial support from the results of the case study.

Index Terms Social Networking Sites, Facebook, Academic Performance

Facebook in particular: profiles, friends, and public


1 INTRODUCTION commenting features like the wall and live news feed

o VER the past few years, SNSs have become more


religion among the college students. SNSs are
[4]. People join SNS in order to share information about
themselves and learn more about those they consider
friends [5].
formed by the connection of many online communities
leading towards the sharing of information, knowledge, 2 MOTIVATIONS
cultural values, and much more. The first official SNS was
This research has conceptual value because social net-
the Classmates.com, which was found in 1995. Its main works are becoming part of our lives. Especially , Face-
purpose was to provide the students with a mean to book has become part of college students everyday lives.
connect during or after their degree completion. Two Compared to the other social networks users, Facebook
years later, SixDegree.com was created , leading towards users are the most engaged. According to Infographic
the chain of emergence of other SNSs, the Cyworld in statistics, 52% users visit Facebook daily, beating out oth-
2001, Friendster and Skyblog in 2002, Orkut in 2004, ers for daily visitors, such as Twitter (36%), MySpace
(7%), and LinkedIn (6%) [6]. Facebook Inc. said that it
Myspace in 2005, Yahoo 360 in 2005, Twitter and
reached the 1 billion active monthly users threshold and
Facebook in the year 2006 [1] . Founded in 2004, Facebook
is up more than 50 million users since june 2012 [7]. One
is a SNS that was originally designed for the use of of the Facebook usage statistics reveals that 48% of 18-34
college age students, and operated under restriction to years old check Facebook when they wake up, with 28%
keep it so. Rosen [2] explains that the name Facebook doing so before even getting out of bed. The core 18-24
originates from the small photo albums that colleges years old segment is now growing the fastest at 74% year
once gave to incoming freshmen and faculty to help them on year [8]. The median age of a Facebook user was 22
cope with meeting so many new people. The college age [7]. In late 2010, the EDUCAUSE Centre for Applied Re-
search (ECAR) study of 36,950 students from 126 US uni-
demographic restriction only lasted two years until 2006
versities and one Canadian university revealed that out of
when its founders decided to make it open to the public, the 90% students who used social networking sites, 97%
so long as a person has a valid email address and the students used Facebook [9]. The greatest motivating fac-
computer skills necessary to create a profile [3]. There are tor for students to use SNS is to connect to others and to
three main unique features to most SNS sites and to socialize. Some have the difficulty disengaging from their
social life. For some, it even raises their anxiety level to be

without their cell phones for a few hours [10]. Students
Lamia.M.Ketari is with the Department of IT at CCIS, King Saud Univer-
sity, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
are not only using Facebook to socialize, but also they are
Mohammadi.A.Khanum is with the Department of IT at CCIS, King Saud increasingly living their social lives in a world without
University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. caring that adults are watching out for them. Harassing
language is normalized, the sexualization of girls/women
is common-place, and the lack of supervision creates an
anything goes wild-wild-west [10]. versity of Technology in Sweden. Authors surveyed 239
undergraduate students. Results reported that intensive
The increased focuss on the Facebook usage has attracted usage of Facebook by students, with extraverted perso-
many researchers to explore its pros and cons. In this pa- nalities, leaded to poor academic performance, whereas
per, we investigate the impact of Facebook usage on aca- students who are more self-regulated control more effec-
demic performance of the students. To achieve this, we tively their presence on Facebook, hence limiting the ap-
have formulated the following hypothesis: parent negative effect on their academic achievement. The
Facebook usage has a negative effect on the students authors said that the results help students to understand
academic performance the preliminary consequences of their extensive usage of
Facebook and to better manage their social activities on
this platform.
3 LITERATURE REVIEW
This paper targets Facebook due to its popularity. It is a In his research [14], Reynol Junco concluded that time
social networking site that allows users to create accounts spent on Facebook was strongly and significantly nega-
in which users can add their personal information, post tively related to overall GPA, while only weakly related
pictures, and connect with others. Currently, there is not a to time spent preparing for class. Surveyed students were
lot of evidence about Facebooks usage for college stu- from universities in northeastern United States. A total of
dents. The review of literature is important because there 1839 surveys were completed online, and the results
are different opinions regarding the impact of Facebook showed that students who spend more time on Facebook
on the students academic performance and their grades. and/or check their Facebook page often, tend to have
We have categorized the literature review in to two sec- lower GPAs. The findings showed certain patterns of Fa-
tions, one supporting our hypothesis and the other one cebook use that are related to lower academic achiev-
not supporting our hypothesis. ment. In fact, it has been noticed that large amounts of
time spent posting status updates could predict lower
3.1 Related Work Supporting Hypothesis GPAs. Also, higher proportion of time spent chatting on
Facebook chat could predict less time spent studying.
In [11] and [12], the authors reported that students who
use Facebook have lower GPAs and spend less time stud-
ying than non-users. Authors surveyed 219 students (102 3.2 Related Work Not Supporting Hypothesis
undergraduate students and 117 graduate students) at
Ohio state university. The findings showed that 85 % of Melissa Rachel [15] used the available published research
undergraduates and 52% of graduate students were Face- on Facebook and SNSs to analyze how Manchester col-
book users. Also, the study found that GPAs of Facebook lege students use Facebook. In the survey, she used 85
users typically ranged a full grade point lower than those students, which comprise of 43 female volunteers and 42
of nonusers (3.0 to 3.5 for users versus 3.5 to 4.0 for their male volunteers. These volunteers were given surveys
non-networking peers). Karpinski states theres a dis- that included questions about whether Facebook was a
connect between students claim that Facebook use does useful tool. The results indicate that there were lots of
not impact their studies,and our finding showing they similarities between female and male students usage of
had lower grades and spent less time studying. In fact, the Facebook. Students chose Facebook for chatting, writ-
the results showed that Facebook non-users reported ing wall posts on each others profiles, and viewing and
spending more time studying than did Facebook users, adding pictures. The main difference between the two
whereas 79% of Facebook members did not believe there sexes was the time spent on Facebook. Males used Face-
was any link between their GPA and their networking book less per day (spending about thirty minutes or less)
habits. Karpinski said that there is no enough data to con- than females.
clude that there is a positive raw correlation between Fa- Ishaf et.al.[16] explored the relationship between SNSs
cebook and lower grades. However, she said that there practices and academic performance of the students by
may be other factors involved, such as personality traits, exploring the relationship of SNS usage with their study-
that link Facebook use and lower grades. ing habits. One thousand students were chosen from dif-
In [12], Paul A. Kirschner and Aryn C. Karpinski con- ferent universities of Pakistan (private and public). Per-
ducted an investigation to examine if there are any differ- sonally administrated questionnaires were used as data
ences in the academic performance (measured by GPA) of collection tool showing the response rate of 73%. The re-
college students who use Facebook and those who dont sults indicate a significant difference of use of SNSs be-
use Facebook. Assuming that Facebook use is an activity tween male and female students. Male students were
carried out while studying, or attending a lecture or a more inclined towards use of these sites than female stu-
workgroup, findings showed that Facebook users re- dents. Studying habits of the students were found to be
vealed having lower GPAs and spend less time studying significantly affected by the time spend on leisure activi-
than non-users. ties, time spent on Internet, time spent on using SNSs,
and basic purpose of using SNS. There was not any sig-
In [13], authors conducted a study on the effects of Fa- nificant effect of leisure activities and purpose of using
cebook usage by undergraduate students at Lulea Uni- Internet on studying habits of the student users.
In [17], the author conducted a research study at a histori- which are in the age group of 20-22 years. We received
cally black university in the southern part of the United responses from 100 students. All respondents are in the
States to examine the impact of Facebook usage on the final year of their degree. Also, respondents cumulative
academic performance and the quality of life of college
GPAs have been collected to explore if Facebook usage
students. The study was conducted with 209 participants.
57.9% of the participants were females and 82.8% were (and SNSs) could affect negatively studentsGPAs.
between the ages of 18 to 23 years. The results indicate
that female students reported higher GPAs than male 4.2 Findings
students. However, the number of hours spent per week
on Facebook did not influence the students academic Table 1 illustartes the SNSs usage based on the type. The
performance. collected data indicated that 81% of the participants are
In [18], the authors conducted a study to examine the im- using Social Networking Sites, mainly: Facebook and
pact of social networking sites, such as Twitter and Face- Twitter. Multiple represents using more than one SNS.
book, usage on the grades of the college students. The DNA represents the group which didnt answer that
study was carried out on the students of Liberal Arts Col- question. No SNS are those students who have no SNS
lege in the Midwest. The findings suggest that GPA did accounts and do not use any SNS.
not play a role in the use of any of the major social net-
working tools and number of minutes spent on several of
the sites did not differ. The major difference lays in the Table1: SNSs usage based on the type
time spent on Facebook, which did show a negative rela-
tionship between time spent on the social network and Facebook 41%
students grades. Twitter 41%
My Space 0%
Similar study was conducted by Chuck Martin [19] at the
Other 5%
University of New Hampshire to determine whether
there is a correlation between heavy usage of social media Multiple 9%
and grades. The findings suggest that the most popular No SNS 3%
online network was Facebook. Infact, 96% of all universi- DNA 2%
ty students use Facebook on a typical day. The study
found that there was no correlation between heavy social
media usage and students grades.
Table 2 shows that 74% of the participants claim that they
do not have enough time to study.
4 CASE STUDY
In order to examine the impact of Facebook usage on the
students final grades, we drafted a self-administered Table 2: Enough time to study
questionnaire. Some of the questions are listed below.
Yes 21%
1. Do you think that you have enough time to No 74%
study?
DNA 5%
2. Do you think you can improve your GPA if you
have more available time to study?
3. How do you spend your leisure time?
4. Select the social networking site that is mostly Table 3 shows that 94% of the participants feel that GPA can
used by you.
be improved if they have more time to study.
5. What features do you use on Facebook?
6. How many hours on average do you spend on
Facebook?
Table 3: GPA can be improved if more time is available to
7. Do you spend more time on Facebook rather study
than studying?
8. Do you feel that Facebook (or other SNSs) has Yes 94%
negative impact on your performance in studies? No 4%
DNA 2%
4.1 Participants
The questionnaire was given to the undergraduate
students from the IT department at CCIS, KSU in Riyadh, Table 4 shows that only 28% of the participants spend their
Saudi Arabia. Since we surveyed a female college, data leisure time in studies, whereas 66% of respondents take
were collected from females undergraduate students benefit of their leisure time to perform other activities. Out of
the many leisure activities, socializing on SNS is more preve- Table 7: Average GPAs of non-Facebook users and Face-
lant. book users

Users Average
Total Users
Category GPA
Table 4: Spending leisure time Non-
62% 4.29
Facebook
Studying 28% Facebook 38% 3.65
Socializing on SNS 32%
Shopping 7%
Visiting
friends/relatives 24% 6 CONCLUSION
Multiple activities 3% The main objective of this study is to explore the po-
DNA 6% tential negative effects of Facebook usage on students
academic performance, usually measured by GPA. Based
on the related work, we noticed that there are conflicting
Table 5 shows that 84% of the participants claim that they do studies on the topic and that the question needs extensive
not spend more time on Facebook than they spend on stu- research. More research and studies from different pers-
dies. pectives can help to actually understand the influence the
Facebook usage has on the academic performance of stu-
dents.
Table 5: Spend more time on Facebook than studying
Hypothesis Revisited: The study findings show that
Yes 4% 55% of the students feel that the use of Facebook or SNSs
No 84% could be negatively related to their academic perfor-
Sometimes 10% mance.However, the current study has some limitations.
DNA 2% First, the academic performance was measured using on-
ly data from female students. We do believe that a more
accurate representation could be achieved if the same
Table 6 shows that 55% of the participants admit that Face- data were collected from male students. Second, collected
book usage has or could have negative impact on their data were only from students in the final year of their
grades. degree. Finally, the following variables: (1) time spent on
leisure activities; (2) time spent on studying; were not
measured accurately (in terms of number of hours) in the
Table 6: Negative impact of Facebook use on grades questionnaire to show evidence that SNSs usage signifi-
cantly affect the studying habits of students, and even-
tually their academic performance.
Yes 18%
No 43%
As future work, we plan to improve the current study
Sometimes 37% by focusing on the time spent on studying, leisure activi-
DNA 2% ties, and how they are related to psychological perspec-
tive, in order to conclude whether or not SNSs interfere
5 DISCUSSION with undergraduate students academic performance. In
addition, we plan to investigate if the cultural and geo-
We categorized the users who spend less than 30 minutes graphical aspects could influence the use of SNSs and
in a given day on Facebook as the non-Facebook users, possibly, lead to different results regarding the relation-
whereas the ones who spend more than 30 minutes as ship between the educational performance of students
Facebook users. We found that 62% of the students fall and the use of SNSs.
under the non-Facebook users category and 38% under
Facebook users category. We compared their GPAs, the REFERENCES
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