Friday, January 15, 2010

View From the Phlipside - Facebook and Grades

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Most parents complain that their kid spend too much time on social media like Facebook or MySpace or Twitter or whatever. And students wish Mom and Dad would get off their backs and leave them alone. Well the argument can finally be put to rest. A survey has been done and the results are in.

The great fear for parents is that the all this online stuff is chewing up so much of our kids attention that their grades are going to suffer. Let's face it we were taught to believe that school work requires all of our attention, that distractions will result in failing out of school, never getting a decent job and living in a cardboard box for the rest of your life! OK, now that we've got the parental angst out of our system let me ask my fellow baby boomers - how many of you did your homework while watching TV or listening to music? Uh, huh. And our parents complained loud and long about it (I know mine did). Surprisingly we've all managed to turn into reasonably productive adults.

So I was excited when I saw that the University of New Hampshire Whittemore School of Business and Economics had done a study looking at the effect of social media use on grades. The big answer that we had all been waiting for, one way or the other would finally be revealed. Over eleven hundred students were surveyed, across a wide variety of majors. Light users were defined as people who used social media (meaning Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, blogs, Twitter or Linkedin) 31 minutes a day or less and heavy users were at 61 minutes a day or more. After careful analysis of the data they has no apparent effect on grades at all.

Nope it seems that college students at least have made social media such a normal part of their lives that it has no negative effect at all. The grades were pretty much the same as for the student body as a whole. The people getting the real bad news out of this was Twitter which only drew 14 per cent of the group compared to the champ, Facebook, which drew 96%.

So where does this leave the parent-child dispute? Well I'm thinking that overall the kids probably win this one. There is no inherent negative to spending some time on the social media at least in reference to grades. On the other hand it means there's no easy excuse either for the young people. If your grades stink, you've got nobody to blame but yourself .

Call that the view from the Phlipside

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

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