Facebook helps pupils fail - research

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 14:44 04/04/2013

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Facebook is helping pupils to fail school, University of Canterbury research suggests.

Psychology masters student Milesa Cepe found that the more high school pupils check the social networking site, the lower their grades.

Some pupils who spoke to Fairfax News said they never turned Facebook off and had it running in the background on their phones and laptop computers during lessons.

"Almost 40 per cent of high school students who checked Facebook between 21 and 31-plus times a day either had low grades or failed," Cepe said.

"Whereas 49 per cent of students who checked Facebook up to just four times a day had grades that were merit and above."

Cepe surveyed 106 high school pupils, 211 university students and their parents.

She found that 93 per cent of high school pupils and university students checked Facebook at least once a day, with high school pupils spending more time online.

However, regularly checking Facebook was just one factor in why pupils failed to achieve.

"The students may already be struggling academically and Facebook is used as a tool to relieve academic stress," Cepe said.

"It's important to note the 60 per cent of students who had high Facebook usage, 21 to 31-plus times a day, also achieved merit and above."

She said that schools encouraged pupils to use tablets and laptops but did not teach them how to manage their downtime from study effectively.

That meant pupils were spending too much "reward time" on Facebook when they completed an assignment, instead of moving on to the next one.

"If you overuse rewards while you study, you do not succeed as well as those who can handle rewards," she said.

Hornby High School principal Richard Edmundson said pupils should not use Facebook at school.

"That said, it is increasingly difficult to stop the use of technology," he said.

"Twenty-first century learning encourages learning anywhere, any time and anyhow."

However, Edmundson said he would be "surprised if using Facebook is causing low academic achievement".

"But I can see how it is an outcome of a lack of engagement with learning," he said.

"It is giving them something to do when they are not engaged.

"One upon a time they would be doing something else, like watching Days of Our Lives and daytime soaps."

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