Is social networking harming students’ grades? The quick answer might be yes, because it distracts students from studying. And in fact, a 2009 study at The Ohio State University found that students who admitted logging onto Facebook several times a day to check status updates, correspond with friends and relatives, or join common-interest groups, had a GPA as much as a grade lower than non-users.

But a recent study at the University of New Hampshire tracked the site usage and grades of students using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn and found “no correlation between the amount of time students spend using social media and their grades.” This study seemed to support similar findings from another study done at Northwestern University. Chuck Martin, an adjunct professor at UNH contends that social media is being integrated with rather than interfering with students’ academic lives. Could it be that college students who have grown up with Facebook have become accustomed to taking short spurts to the site without derailing concentration on other tasks?

What are the affects—positive or negative—of social media sites like Facebook? Users contend it connects them with friends and family. Companies, groups, and charities with established pages say it brings in more customers, members, and donations. And we’ve seen in recent news reports that Facebook and Twitter have been used by citizens in countries with repressive governments to organize protests and spread news of government repression to the outside world.

Whatever your feelings about the growing popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, all must agree that these technologies are becoming part of the everyday tools of our students in all levels of our education system.

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