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Good Housekeeping
August 26, 2011

New Study: Facebook Turns Kids and Teens into Worse Students

Research shows students who check Facebook once in a 15-minute study period get lower grades in school.
facebook_bad_for_kids.jpgIn the digital age that we live in today, kids and adults alike depend on technology--and more recently, social networking--every day. While they're useful for establishing connections for both work and personal reasons, they've also proven to be quite a distraction, especially for the younger generation. In fact, according to the results of research Professor Larry Rosen recently presented at the Annual Convention of the American  Psychological Association, students from middle school to college who accessed Facebook just once in a 15-minute study period performed worse in school.

The researchers observed the students during the study period and had startling realizations. "What we found was mind-boggling," Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University, is quoted as saying on TIME.com. "About every three minutes they are off-task. You'd think under these constraints, knowing that someone is observing you, that someone would be more on task.”

Their findings showed that students would open more and more windows as the minutes passed by, and the more they toggled between their work and other tasks, the worse their performance became. "The more media they consumed per day, the worse students they were," he said.

But not all their results were negative. The same study also found out that children who wrote supportive comments on Facebook and other social networking sites became more empathetic in real life. "We are finding that kids who are able to express more virtual empathy are able to expres more real-world empathy,” Rosen is quoted as saying. “They feel more supported socially by online and offline networks.”

The problem lies in how parents can best control their children's Internet time so they can maximize the benefits of social networking and minimize the effect on studying. Rosen suggests that teachers can also do their part by making "tech breaks" in school. He proposes that teachers disallow students from using their phones in a 15-minute time period, then give them a one-minute break to check Facebook.

"One minute turns out to be a pretty darn long time,” says Rosen. “We now know neurologically that if we don't have a tech break, kids are already starting to think about anything other than what the teacher is talking about. If they know they get a tech break, they're able to stop those thoughts. It works amazingly.”

(Screencap via Facebook.com)

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