Facebook and Academic Importance

Authors: Josh Pasek, eian more, and Eszter Hargittai

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Citation: Pasek, J, more, e., & Hargittai, E. (2009). Facebook and Academic Performance: Reconciling a Media Sensation with Data. First Monday. 14(5)


A recent draft manuscript suggested that Facebook use might be related to lower academic achievement in college and graduate school (Karpinski, 2009). The report quickly became a media sensation and was picked up by hundreds of news outlets in a matter of days. However, the results were based on correlational data in a draft manuscript that had not been published, or even considered for publication. This paper attempts to replicate the results reported in the press release using three data sets: one with a large sample of undergraduate students from the University of Illinois at Chicago, another with a nationally representative cross sectional sample of American 14- to 22-year-olds, as well as a longitudinal panel of American youth aged 14-23. In none of the samples do we find a robust negative relationship between Facebook use and grades. Indeed, if anything, Facebook use is more common among individuals with higher grades. We also examined how changes in academic performance in the nationally representative sample related to Facebook use and found that Facebook users were no different from non-users.


  • Introduction
  • The FG study
  • Prior research
  • The current examination
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Limitations and future studies
  • Conclusions


Hargittai’s study at the University of Illinois at Chicago was made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Hargittai expresses her thanks to Ann Feldman and Tom Moss of the UIC First–Year Writing Program for supporting this project. She is also grateful to Waleeta Canon, Gina Walejko and the 2006–07 group of research assistants in the Web Use Project group for their assistance with data collection and data entry.

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