A survey of over 1,600 college students about their Facebook behaviour has revealed that using social media to make friends and create the support network can help them get good marks.
According to Reynol Junco, associate professor of education at Iowa State University, if students are committed to their social circles, then they are also committed to their institution and that is a major part of academic success.
The survey looked at time spent strictly using the social networking site and time spent on Facebook while multitasking.
It found that certain tasks on Facebook such as sharing links and checking in with friends were positively linked to good grades.
It would be easy to conclude that simply spending less time on Facebook would improve a student's GPA, but Junco cautions against rushing to that conclusion.
“It is not just the way students are accessing the site but the way in which they are using the site that has an effect on academic outcomes,” Junco said.
The negative relationship between Facebook use and GPA has little to do with Facebook.
“Instead, it is reflective of a broader issue, one that all students must confront when they go to college - self-regulation. In that regard, Facebook use is no different than any other distraction for students,” Junco said.
Higher education professionals can offer more assistance and teach students about responsible Facebook use rather than telling them to completely abstain from social media, the author added.
Parents and teachers could also do a better job of helping students develop better self-regulation in middle and high school.
In previous research, Junco found that multitasking on social media was positively linked to student engagement.
The study was published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.