Effects of social media on students

A new study by German researchers shows, that students' social media use does not lead to failing grades.

Effects of social media on students

Wuerzburg, Germany (dpa) - Scare stories about the effects of social media on students' grades are misplaced, finds a recent study conducted by German researchers and reported in Educational Psychology Review journal.

"The horror stories about the disastrous effects assumed to result from social networks on school performance are without foundation," says Markus Appel, who researches communications science at Wuerzburg University.

He and fellow academics evaluated the outcomes of 59 published studies on the link between social media use and grades to find that, when used appropriately, these networks can help boost scores.

When pupils use social media to exchange information about their homework, this tends to boost grades. But trying to do homework while using social media at the same time - multitasking - has a slight negative effect.

And intensity is important. Those perpetually on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other similar sites tend to see their grades decline.

One interesting aspect of the Wuerzburg study, which considered almost 30,000 subjects between ages 13 and 22, is that youngsters are not learning less as a result of spending time on their smartphones.

"There is no evidence to support the plausible assumption that time spent on social media is at the expense of studying," Appel says.

Pupils who make intensive use of social media do not spend less time on their studies. Quite possibly it is time that was previously spent in front of the television that is used for social media - and after all, it is impossible to discuss schoolwork via the television.

Study co-author Caroline Marker noted that individual studies threw up contradictory outcomes, some finding positive, some negative and others no effects. But the meta-study provides a clearer picture.

"Things are not nearly as bad as is often assumed" is Appel's conclusion. Social media use in the younger generation is neither harmful nor helpful in principle. "It depends what you use it for."

What is unclear is whether academically less-able pupils have a tendency towards greater social media use, or whether intensive use leads to slightly worse grades.

A separate US study recently looked into a different effect of social media use: Spending more time online doesn't mean greater well-being.

Happiest are those teenagers who spend a little under an hour online, according to an analysis by San Diego State University published in the journal Emotion.

Satisfaction ratings decline for those spending longer than an hour on social media every day, and a similar effect is observed for those who spend no time online or are not allowed to do so.

As always, correlation is not causation, the authors note. So it is not clear whether satisfaction ratings are linked to social media use, or whether other factors are at work.