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Study: Online social networking leads to more personal interaction

Study: Online social networking leads to more personal interaction

By Randall Jeppesen | Posted - Oct. 29, 2010 at 12:36 p.m.



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PROVO -- A new BYU study reveals those students who spend more time on social networking websites also interact more in person.

Does socializing online decrease or increase a college student's face-to-face interaction with people? BYU graduate student Wade Jacobsen was a resident assistant at some of the student housing on campus and wondered about that question as he saw students spending a lot of time on Facebook, playing video games and interacting on their phones.


We also found that contrary to what we expected, they are not spending less time with their friends face to face because they are spending time online. It actually facilitates offline interaction.

–Wade Jacobsen


That prompted a study that is now published in the journal, "Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking." The study of 1,000 freshman students at BYU found about 62 percent of them used some type of non-academic electronic social media while doing homework or in class.

"They're multitasking," said Jacobsen.

He found the average student was spending at least one hour a day on Facebook or a similar social network. The students were on their cell phones texting or talking 45 minutes per day.

What Jacobsen didn't expect to find was that students using social networks on a consistent basis didn't spend any less time interacting in person with peers.

Findings:
Online social networking study
  • First-year students averaged 52 minutes per day on social networks such as Facebook
  • On average, they sent between 11 and 20 text messages per day
  • On average, they spent 45 minutes texting or talking on a cell phone
  • Most students had between 150 and 200 Facebook friends.

"We also found that contrary to what we expected, they are not spending less time with their friends face to face because they are spending time online," said Jacobsen. "It actually facilitates offline interaction."

Facebook and texting encouraged students to arrange more activities and get out, compared to students who didn't use the social networks.

Jacobsen points out that of course there are the extreme Facebook users who spend hours at a time online that don't get out, but he says that's not what they found to be typical. The study did come across a negative for those students who spent an above-average amount of time on Facebook.

Professor Renata Forste, who co-authored the study, said, "It helps their social life but it doesn't help their academic life."

For every one-hour increase on a social networking sight above one hour a day, there was a .05 decrease in GPA. That's would be the equivalent of a student with a full credit load dropping from a B+ to a B grade.

Jacobsen says the reason for the drop appears to be that those students are on social networks while trying to study at the same time.

Forste said, "Other studies suggest that you really can't multitask and expect to always maintain the same level of performance."

To learn more about the study, [CLICK HERE]

E-mail: rjeppesen@ksl.com

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Randall Jeppesen

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