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SALT LAKE CITY -- Research shows a link among college students who use the social media website Facebook and lower grades. Kids who don't use the site study more, but there are some questions as to whether Facebook is to blame for that.
There seems to be no debate, though, Facebook can help people waste a lot of time.
Richard Farley, a guidance counselor at Bingham High School, said, "It does appear to be addicting if you let it be that way."
An exploratory study from Ohio State shows its students who have a Facebook account study between one and five hours a week, while students who don't use Facebook study between 11 and 15 hours. The study does not, however, say Facebook is the reason for kids studying less. Farley says the site is probably just the newest tool used by kids to avoid studying."The kids who are going to find a way to avoid it will find ways to avoid it," he said. Farley says he's not seeing an increase of students who waste time instead of doing their work since the social media site has come around. He says if kids who don't like studying weren't on Facebook, they'd still avoid studying by doing something else.
"They want to go hang out with their friends, or they're sneaking out of the house or they create arguments and contention in the house so parents just back off because it's not worth the battle to them," he said.
He has seen students who would rather clean their room than study.
How do counselors help the kids who just don't want to hit the books?
"The first thing we do is figure out how they are using their time. They might not know the right learning styles. They might not be able to use their time in the most productive way," he said.
After seeing how kids use their time, Farley says he's had to tell parents to limit the time their child spends online or playing video games or texting or anything that's keeping the child from working. Should parents just make an automatic rule and keep their kids from using Facebook completely during the school year?
"I suggest that, but we can only make suggestions. Parents have to ultimately decide," Farley said.
The Ohio State study also says Facebook users earned GPAs averaging between 3.0 and 3.5, while non-users earned between 3.5 and 4.0 on average. It also says students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math were more likely to use the site than students who majored in humanities and social sciences. Also, 85 percent of undergraduates have an account, compared to 52 percent of graduates.