Photo Illustration by Bryan Cole / The Collegian
Are social networks destroying college studentsâ€™ studying habits?
Begin working on physics homework or log on to Facebook.
This was the internal debate Jocelyn Brown was struggling with after coming home from her three-hour lifespan and development class late Tuesday night.
Making her way to the computer, the 22-year-old health and rehabilitation sciences major typed in the Web address and waited as the Facebook Web site loaded onto the screen. She had made her decision.
â€œI use it to procrastinate,â€ Brown said of the social networking site. â€œI end up cramming in everything at the last second.â€
In an Ohio State University survey released this April, researchers found that this may be the case for many students and discovered that there was a correlation between students with Facebook accounts and its affect on their academic success. Of the 206 surveyed, 146 students had accounts and the results showed that typically, Facebook users had a GPA ranging from 3.0-3.5 while non-users fell into the 3.5-4.0 academic spectrum.
Associate Professor and Graduate Director of the MCJ Graduate Program Dr. Tamyra Pierce has been researching media effects on young people for 15 years, and found data that mirrored Ohio Stateâ€™s within her own research involving high school students and MySpace.
â€œThose who had spent more time on their social networking sites had lower grades,â€ Pierce said.
â€œThere also tended to be a pattern of students who would say they did homework while they had their social networking site open and their cell phone on.â€
After hearing â€œMySpace me, MySpace me,â€ from her students, Pierce began investigating the social networking site and has surveyed 800 Sanger and Fresno high school students on the relationship between media related technology and academic performance.
â€œIt seems that a lot of students are texting and using the technology in the classroom and therefore, are not paying attention to the lectures,â€ Pierce said. â€œJust a few years ago, cell phones couldnâ€™t get access to the internet and now you can.â€
For 20-year-old Cynthia Figueroa, this constant connection to social networking sites through her cell phone allows Figueroa to update and log on to her account almost every hour.
â€œIâ€™m basically on all the time,â€ the pre-nursing major said. â€œI have Facebook mobile so itâ€™s accessible anytime of the day. I just have to touch the icon on the screen and Iâ€™m on Facebook.â€
Figueroa first began utilizing social networking sites as a junior in high school and recently transitioned from a MySpace to a frequent Facebook user. She believed that with Facebook, it was easier to keep in touch with friends that otherwise wouldâ€™ve been difficult to remain in contact with.
Like Figueroa, Jason Salas, 20, also views Facebook as a convenient way to communicate and keep in contact with friends, but admitted that he can get preoccupied with Facebook and tries to access it only three to four times a week.
â€œI donâ€™t personally do it,â€ the civil engineering major said. â€œBut Iâ€™ve noticed that people are constantly putting updates on their sites. Itâ€™s ridiculous.â€
Pierce, too, views Facebook and MySpace as good ways to network for college students, but believes that making those connections through social networking sites can act as a double edged sword.
â€œCollege students and high schoolers should be aware of what they put up on their site,â€ Pierce said. â€œIf thereâ€™s a whole bunch of language, pictures of drug paraphernalia or they expose themselves inappropriately in pictures, they need to remember that employers are watching these sites.â€
She also explained that social networking sites are beginning to have an effect on communication skills and through cyberspace, the loss of the interpersonal can show a regression in grammar, social tools, and even the ability to look at someone when speaking.
Whether or not Facebook and other social networking sites play a role in lower grade point averages, Pierce explained that it was important to understand that Facebook doesnâ€™t cause lower grades and can be influenced by other outside factors.
â€œIt is something that can preoccupy someone and if it gets out of control and one becomes almost addicted to it then it can cause problems,â€ Pierce said.
â€œBut itâ€™s like anything, whether it be video games, television, watching movies or anything that takes away from studying.â€