Social MediaTechnolodgy

Why Social Media is Bad For Students

Many parents are critical of the social media use of their children. The fear is often that above all the school services suffer from social networks. Studies on this question are numerous, but also contradictory. Some studies confirm a negative influence, others point to positive effects or can show no effect on the grades of students.

Why Social Media is Bad For Students
Why Social Media is Bad For Students

Does social media make for bad grades?

The user behavior of students in social networks has been researched intensively for quite some time. How does consumption affect the development of the self-image, social behavior, but also academic performance?

Does social media influence the grades of students? Many individual studies seem to prove that. Other studies indicate positive effects. Some cannot make any impact of social media on the performance of students.

Researchers at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg and the University of Bamberg have now combined and analyzed individual studies conducted worldwide using a meta-analysis.

Professor of Media Communication Markus Appel and the Ph.D. studentsCaroline Marker and Timo Gnambs compared 59 studies that examine the correlation between social media and school grades. The results have now been published in the scientific journal  Educational Psychology Review.

Unfounded horror scenarios

Contrary to the widespread assumption that the use of social media would negatively impact the performance and learning ability of students, researchers came to a different conclusion in their meta-analysis.

The conclusion of Study Director Markus Appel: “Horror scenarios about the alleged fatal effects of social networks on academic performance are unfounded.”

The studies they selected all examined reliance on school performance and the use of social networks. In total, the studies included almost 30,000 study participants from all over the world. The four main findings of the study clearly demonstrated that the use of social media has little, if any, negative impact on the grades of students.

In some cases, it can even have a positive effect.

Negative effects hardly relevant

It turned out that students who use social media during class or homework tend to have worse grades. The reason for this is not to look for it exclusively in social networks. Other forms of multitasking have also shown in the past to have a negative impact on academic performance. Even students who spend an above-average amount of time on social media platforms have slightly lower scores.

However, the effect is considered minimal by scientists. Rather, it has become clear that students spend less time learning and doing homework today than older generations. The assumption is that students use social media in the time when earlier generations watched TV.

Social media can even improve scores

Overall, the meta-analysis of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg invalidates the assumption that the use of social networks has a negative effect on the learning behavior of students.

Rather, the results show that media usage has changed overall, but has barely any impact on students’ performance. The negative effects of intensive social media use are also very low and can only be considered as a minimal factor for poor grades.

Instead, it turns out that students who use social media to discuss school-related topics are even better off. Apel even suggests that students have a distinct advantage over television generation. Because “over the television, one could not exchange over school tasks”.

Time Wasters

A study titled “Too much face and not enough books” examined whether the benefits of Facebook are related to poorer scores. The researchers found that the time spent on Facebook is a strong predictor of performance.

Especially if you sacrifice a lot of time for Facebook, it has negative consequences for the final grade.

Surprisingly, however, (at least according to this study) this is not due to the less time spent learning. Other studies support this argument by claiming that previous generations have followed other activities for as long.

Only they were not on Facebook but watched TV, read newspapers or were out in the fresh air. A hypothesis that might still explain the effect: Maybe we find it harder to keep concentration after long social media escapades.

New learning material can be difficult to remember, which makes for worse grades.

What is certain, however, is that social media has simply created a lot of procrastination possibilities. The flood of information that we could consume sometimes makes it difficult to not give in. Social media, therefore, requires good time management.

Last Word:

One thing is certain: social media definitely have an effect on your final grade! However, most of the study results are rather sobering at first glance: if there is any effect at all, it is very small. The research landscape is versatile: Is there a study that claims social media use causes bad grades, then a little later a study is published which reports the opposite effect.

In research, we find many results – especially many different! In addition, there is an occasional problem that is not detected in a differentiated way, which affects the social media our grades.

Greater effects in the notes actually only become apparent when we take a closer look at which areas of our lives are influenced by social media. Only in this way can we see the impact of social media on our academic performance and on our grades.


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