Saturday, August 11, 2007

Students Who E-communicate Have Lower Grades

A new study of 517 California high-school students found that grades were lower in those who socially interacted over the Internet using MySpace, instant messaging (IM) accounts, or who used cell phones. In the study, students answered a questionnaire on what social networking devices they used and when they used them. The answers were paired with the grades (from the previous year and the most recent report card).

In this study, 72% of the students had a My Space account, 76% had a cell phone, and 68% had an IM address. Those who had a MySpace account had significantly lower grades than those without an account. The same was true for those that used IM, compared with those who did not. Cell phone use was also associated with lower grades and the effect was magnified if text messaging was used on cell phones. Not surprisingly, if these devices were used during homework, the grades were even lower than for students who used these technologies outside of homework. Almost half reported text messaging during class time, and their grades were lower than the students who only used IM outside of class.

These are correlational data and do not prove that using these devices causes lower grades. But it is a good bet. Multi-tasking, as when using the communication devices while trying to do homework or learn in class, is well-known to interfere with memory . Poor memory yields lower grades. See my other posts on multi-tasking.


Pierce, Tamyra, and Vaca, Roberto. 2007. Distracted: academic performance differences between teen users of MySpace and other communication technologies. Proceedings EISTA. Orlando, FL. July.

For more summaries of recent research with practical application, click here.