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UNH Study: Social media usage doesn’t affect academics

By Kyle LaFleur

Staff Writer


Published: Thursday, February 4, 2010

Updated: Thursday, February 4, 2010

           Students who fear that spending too much time on social media sites will affect their academic performance can breathe easy, according to a new study.

            Conducted by WSBE professor Chuck Martin and his marketing research class, the study found that there was no correlation between grades students receive and the amount of time spent on sites such as Facebook or Youtube.

            “We broke down usage by minutes during a typical day,” said Martin, with light users being logged onto a social media site for fewer than 31 minutes per day and heavy users on for a time exceeding 61 minutes per day.

The results found that 63 percent of the students who were categorized as heavy users received As and Bs while 37 percent received grades lower the Bs.  For the light users, it was found that the ratio was 65 percent high grades to 35 percent low. 

Six popular social media websites were mentioned within the survey. 

“The top sites for students in order were Facebook, Youtube, blogs, Twitter, Myspace and LinkedIn,” said Martin. The study found that 96 percent of students use Facebook and 84 percent used Youtube. 

“I thought the results were what they should be,” said Senior Bryan McManus who worked on the project, “I was surprised by how many people use it for social and entertainment as opposed to professional and educational reasons.”

The marketing class found that 89 percent of the students claimed they used the sites for social reasons and 79 percent said for entertainment.  Findings were that 26 percent said they used it for educational purposes and 16 percent for professional needs.

The subject of the study was selected and run by the class. Information was gathered by teams of five to six students with each group assigned one of the six colleges within the university.  Of the 11,958 students attending UNH last semester 1,127 were surveyed by the class.

“We asked them what they used social media, how often do you use each of the mediums, and how has your media usage changed over the past year,” said McManus

The study has been gaining popularity outside of the university as well.  The results have been published throughout the country and even as far away as India, according to Martin.

“Students are not surprised,” he said, “but adults are.”


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Justin Herman, MPA student and president of Social Media Club NH
Mon Feb 22 2010 10:26
The comments posted in response to this article reflect a inherent disconnect between the perceptions of students who have yet to enter the professional workforce, and the realities of modern community engagement within business, government, healthcare and most other fields - the reality being that usage of social media is not always a "time waster," but a necessary tool in order to maximize their potential.

From hospitals to government agencies, from the media to small business, professionals rely upon Twitter, Facebook, Ning sites, You Tube and blogs in order to engage with the very people they serve, communicate freely on the needs of the communities, and ultimately improve those services.

Parents and educators have done our students no favors, however, by framing social media as only a minefield where potential employers Google applicants looking for photos of them drinking beer. The truth is that in the modern professional space, employers are more likely to Google their applicants looking to see if they are engaging in the profession, taking an interest, perhaps even positioning themselves as thought leaders - and this is done through social media.

Rest assured, other universities are taking a lead on this trend whereas others may not - from Harvard to Georgetown, social media education is increasingly entwined in traditional studies not as a gimmick, but as the cost of doing business. Students who don't take advantage of these lessons are placing themselves at a severe disadvantage in entering the workforce, no matter what their major is.

For these reasons and others, we have started an event-based group that will have free, monthly events throughout NH that will provide educational, networking, and collaborative programs for students, government employees, healthcare providers, journalists and businesses, preparing them for the challenges of today with the tools they need to know in order to not be left behind, for I promise you, to not engage in social media right now is to be left behind.

If you are interested in learning more, follow us on Twitter at @SMCNH - and if you're not on Twitter, perhaps you should come to our first event on Friday in Portsmouth, with WMUR, NH Department of IT, Portsmouth Regional Hospital, The Wire, RPM Challenge,, and more. Unless of course you feel these leaders in the NH community are "wasting time."

Justin Herman
MPA student
president, Social Media Club NH

Laura M.
Sun Feb 21 2010 07:36
I feel this to be a false claim. In the first year of Facebook's broadening to other college networks, like that of my art school, I joined it in my portfolio class (following the lead of many others) purposely as a time-waster. I didn't think it was going to ever go public, so I thought it was safe to join. I know it most definitely lowered the amount of time I would have otherwise been spending on that class' work and my gpa that final quarter.
Sun Feb 21 2010 06:14
What I find nonsense is the fact that internet usage exceeding 60minutes, one hour that is, is classified as heavy usage. In my opinion, there are people who spend well over 4-5 hours a day on FB. The interesting thing therefore is to find out whether these people's performances are affected. Why would an hour of internet usage prove a problem is my question? A survey set out to prove a dodgy point for the producers of social media with characteristics so silly that they can be rendered useless from the start. What really interests me though is why noone else picked up this point before me... And as previous comments have mentioned, this is a small sample.
robbie r
Sun Feb 21 2010 02:29
what a hoax
Sat Feb 20 2010 13:37
Fri Feb 19 2010 15:41
1,127 students surveyed out of an approximate 15.9 million college students nationwide. I think it is pretty clear that this survey does NOT even begin to represent the population. There are so many biases involved in this study that it should never have been published in the news.
Fri Feb 19 2010 15:29
This doesn't surprise me... I am a junior taking 4 AP classes, world history, calculus BC, English and Physics. I am on facebook throughout my time afterschool, and yet I still have an unweighted GPA of 3.69; there's no problem with Facebook.
Lil' basset hound-korean-mastiff-buddha-face
Fri Feb 19 2010 15:24
wtf why would anyone use fb for educational puposes?
from Asia
Fri Feb 19 2010 15:11
stupid hoax....u would better consider performing experiments on true victims, instead of the "sponsored scholars". All of us know, FB hampers grades a lot.

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