Good news, college students: A new study has found that stalking your friends and friends of your friends on Facebook will not, generally, hurt your grades. In fact, certain things such as sharing links and checking in with friends may actually improve your GPA. That being said, this much is clear: You still shouldn’t use Facebook while you’re studying.
Reynol Junco, an associate professor of education at Iowa State University, surveyed over 1,600 college students about their Facebook behavior and their grades. He found that not only is there no reason to believe Facebook hinders students’ grades, but it may actually be the opposite.
“Students use social media to make friends and create the support network they need,” he says. “If they’re committed to their social circles, then they’re also committed to their institution, and that’s a major part of academic success.”
The real problem, the study indicates, is not that students are using Facebook, but rather that younger students don’t know when or how much to use it—just like any other activity. (As most of us can recall from our own experiences of staying up until 3am and subsisting on caffeine jolts, college freshmen have no idea how to manage their time.)
Junco says that college students don’t really figure out how to regulate their lives effectively until senior year. That self-regulation, he says, also applies to how they use Facebook.
Moral of the story: It’s okay to use Facebook. Really, it’s more than okay; it’s encouraged. Just don’t do it when you’re supposed to be studying.