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25 June 2013

Texting and Browsing on Facebook Linked to Lower School Grades

Keywords: computer, education, internet, survey, technology, North America, SMS, learning, media, mobile, mobile phone, social media, young adults,

Communication technologies are an important part of students’ lives and they spend a great amount of time using these technologies. However, these technologies are also a serious distraction. Students often browse on sites such as Facebook while completing schoolwork. This study in Computers and Education investigates how using communication technologies while doing schoolwork affects students’ grade average. It appears that students who use Facebook and texting while studying have lower overall grade averages. 

Take aways

  • Browsing on Facebook and texting while doing schoolwork negatively impacts students’ grades. 
  • Students frequently use communication technologies while studying.
  • Thus, it is important to make students aware of the fact that using Facebook and texting while studying can be harmful.

Study information

  • The question?

    Does using communication technologies while studying affect students’ grade average?

  • Who?

    1,774 college students, between the ages of 17 and 56 (mean age: 21 years); 64% women; primarily European-American.

  • Where?

    United States

  • How?

    Students filled out an online survey about their use of communication technologies, frequency of switching between tasks, and internet skills. Students also gave the researchers permission to see their grades and to calculate their grade average.

Facts and findings

  • Students who used Facebook and texting while doing schoolwork had lower grade averages. 
  • However, emailing, talking on the phone, and using instant messaging while studying did not affect students’ grade averages. 
  • Students reported that while studying they spent an average of 60 minutes per day browsing on Facebook, 43 minutes per day searching on the Internet, and 22 minutes per day reading their emails (see Figure 1).
  • In addition, they sent an average of 71 texts per day while studying. 
  • Critical note: This study does not allow for any conclusions about cause (using communication technologies while studying) and effect (students’ grades). The results only show that some types of communication technologies are associated with students’ grades and cannot say anything about what causes what.