The Demise of the Facebook Scholar – A look into social media and its affects on students

Over 1 million students “Like” Studying as an Interest on Facebook, but what do the stats say? The truth is that the Facebook Scholar – those who study while using Facebook – has an uphill battle when it comes to college admissions, competing for scholarships and anything else that requires focused studying.

As of April 2012, 1,449,440 Facebook users like “Studying” as an Interest and there are 19,753 talking about it, but according to experts, the less time spent “talking about” things on Facebook, the better. In fact, your Facebook usage can determine whether or not you’ll even be accepted into college. According to various reports, the addiction to this social media giant is having an effect on performance in the classroom.

What the experts are saying

Facebook tends to take up a significant amount of time among college students that would otherwise be useful in improving GPAs. Distractions that are always present and allow for easy access (i.e. the Internet) can sometimes trump the desire to succeed in other obligations. A study conducted by Ohio State University found that students who use Facebook had a lower GPA than those who didn’t. They found that users attained a GPA of 3.0 to 3.5 while non-users had GPAs of 3.5 to 4.0. The article also notes a disparity of hours spent studying with users spending only one to five hours and non-users eleven to fifteen. A few years earlier, UK’s Daily Mail reported about a team of psychologists who studied 219 college students in the states. They found that those who were on Facebook while studying had scores 20% lower than those who weren’t before an exam. And the GPA of users was 3.06 compared to an average 3.82 for non-users. Of course, you don’t need extensive research to tell you that if you’re not completely focused on something your retention rate decreases accordingly, but these statistics go along with a condition with satirical beginnings and has been debated in the professional world about its legitimacy for over a decade. 

Back in 1995, Dr. Ivan Goldberg invented a condition called Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) as a joke to members of the site He gave it an apocryphal diagnosis similar to pathological gambling which can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. Since then, it’s been debatable whether or not to include it in the DSM and have it treated as a legitimate mental disorder. Basically, Internet addiction is sustained computer use that prevents one from carrying out other obligations like work, family and academic duties. For many, the Internet can be extremely addictive leading some to even file lawsuits for redress. For instance, a man in Hawaii, Craig Smallwood, levied a $3 million lawsuit against NCsoft, the makers of the online game Lineage II, for making it “too addictive”. He logged in over 20,000 hours between 2004 and 2009 trying to progress on the game. Another lawsuit came from an employee of IBM, James Pacenza, who was fired for spending too much time in chat rooms during work hours. He claims that chat rooms were his way of “self-medicating” his issues with post-traumatic stress disorder after the Vietnam war.

Although being addicted to the Internet is a problem for many, it’s hard to classify it as an actual mental disorder. There’s a line between mental disorders like bipolar, schizophrenia or depression (which can be at the root of IAD) and issues in normal healthy people that can be defined as a lack of time-management and self-discipline. IAD is prevalent among young people leading to the arguement that it’s just a phase and can eventually be grown out of. Either way, it does have an impact on test scores and grades and is something that possibly needs to be addressed on an individual basis. Having to repeat a class because you’ve spent too much time on Facebook is when the problem has become serious and costly.

Let the numbers speak for themselves

With Facebook being such an easy way to communicate with friends around the world, it’s become the largest, most visited, social media site on the net. Nielsen found that of the top ten web brands on the web in December of last year, people spent more time on Facebook (6:51:09) than any other site during the month. More than Google (1:36:42), YouTube (1:37:51), Bing (1:28:20), Amazon (0:42:10) and Wikipedia (0:17:36) combined. As you can see, the site closely related to erudition – Wikipedia – doesn’t even come close.

Yet, time spent on the social media site isn’t the only issue that can harm a college-bound student’s chance of enrolling into an institution. A Kaplan study in 2009 reveals that the popularity of the site provides an avenue where nontraditional bonds can be made. For example, the report explains that college admissions officers (over 70%) were added as friends on Facebook. Being too revealing or promiscuous with photos or even having “Likes” to unwholesome Interests (e.g. drugs, having sex, violence, killing) can cause an on-the-fence official – who can see your news feed – to have an undesired opinion of you. Jobs have been lost because of compromising activities on social media sites becoming an issue for people in all levels of society. It wasn’t too long ago when former congressmen Anthony Weiner was forced to resign after sending graphic pictures via his Twitter account. This type of lewd behavior is pretty extreme, yet even an unflattering picture taken of you experimenting a few substances during that cross-country road-trip can prevent you from attending the school of your dreams if posted on Facebook.

Facebook pages for college students:

As long as you can control the amount of time you spend on Facebook, it can actually be a very rewarding site to visit. There are many businesses that cater specifically to the college crowd that can help out financially as well as in a few other ways. Below I listed a few Facebook pages that I recommend you Like:

  • CampusLive – Have a habit of putting things off till the very last minute? Maybe you can work that to your advantage. They have an interesting slogan: “Procrastination that pays”. Signing up will give you a chance to win prizes that range from cash, electronics, trips and other neat stuff that can help make campus more entertaining. If you’re going to give in to the appeal of Facebook, you might as well be winning prizes.

  • GradeFund – You work long hours getting good grades year after year, but do you ever get paid? Well, here you can. Each time you post a good grade, you’re qualified to earn donations from other users. Just keep achieving high scores and invite family and friends to be sponsors to help provide an incentive. They also offer mini-scholarships worth $125-$250 with different promos and contests. Here’s their Facebook Page.

  • Cramster – When working on homework, you might come across a problem that leaves you scratching your head. Instead of exclaiming your frustration with a status-update, find Cramster’s Facebook Page as their sole purpose is to help those in your situation. Whether it be math, history, science or business, there are experts waiting and willing to assist you with your toughest homework problems. And if you’re a whiz at a subject, you can help others with their problems and gain karma points which can earn you cool stuff from gadgets to apparel and even a gift card to Southwest Airlines.

  • Zinch – Money is definitely important, and the best way to get free money for school is by applying for scholarships. You can visit Zinch’s Facebook page and receive up-to-date info on scholarships to apply for to help pay for college. They also have an app that’ll make it easier to find the information you need to pay for school.

Other popular college-related sites include Evernote which can help with staying on track with schedules and projects; Google Scholar , a search engine specifically for students hoping to gain more resources than Wikipedia, and Rate My Professor, a good site to those interested in learning about which professors you should take and which ones you should avoid. Internet addiction is an issue that can be addressed by setting priorities and utilizing proper time-management skills. If you’re not sure if you’re addicted, there are plenty of Internet addiction tests you can find on the web.


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