Facebook: The Final Frontier
 
Student Researchers

Travis Ratica, Matt Blue, & Jared Besecker (Undergraduate Students)
This paper is based on a project from an undergraduate Media Effects course.

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

Introduction

This study explores the recent explosion of usage of social networking sites (SNS), more specifically the usage of Facebook. We will examine the usage of Facebook and see how it relates to GPA as well as how it relates to age and involvement in extra-curricular activities.

Research Questions

RQ1- What is the relationship between Facebook usage and GPA?
RQ2- What is the relationship between age and Facebook and Twitter usage?
RQ3- What is the relationship between class enjoyment and amount of time spent on Facebook?
RQ4- What is the relationship between amount of time spent on Facebook and extra-curricular activities as they relate to GPA?

Method

We created a 40-question survey on Surveymonkey.com and distributed it to several undergraduate communications classes and also sent the link through Facebook and ANGEL course management system. We had 152 participants, 99 females and 53 males, participate in this study. Questions were either open ended and allowed respondents to enter their own responses, or were measured on a 5-point likert scale.

Results

RQ1- We found that participants who used Facebook less than 90 min per week have a lower GPA while people who use Facebook more than 90 min per week have a higher GPA.


GPA: use Facebook less than 90 minutes per week             GPA: use Facebook more than 90 minutes per week

RQ2- We found that people over 25 tend to use twitter more often and younger people (under 25) use Facebook more.

RQ3- We found that the more people use Facebook the more they enjoy class.

RQ4- We found that the more time spent on Facebook the more involved in extra-curricular the person was. Also we found that the more extra-curricular activities the person was involved in the higher the persons GPA leading us to believe that extra curricular activities is a mediating variable between time spent on Facebook and GPA.

Conclusion

The results we found from our study were very surprising in the aspect that people spending over 90 min a week on Facebook had a higher GPA. We originally thought that the opposite would happen, that people who spend more time would have a lower GPA but that was not the case. We did find the expected results for age in respect the SNS sites. Older people use twitter more and younger people use Facebook more. We attribute this to older people wanting to stay connected with people but not being able to spend a large amount of time facilitating these connections so they use twitter because it is fast and convenient and does not require a large amount of time. The results for RQ3 showed that people who use Facebook more enjoy class more and we attribute this to the social connections made on Facebook. Since students are able to interact with classmates on Facebook, they are able to meet their classmates on a personal level and get to know them so they feel more comfortable in class because they feel they have friends in the class with them.  In terms of RQ4 we found very interesting results in that extra-curricular activity was a mediating variable between time spent on Facebook and GPA. We found a relationship between Facebook time and GPA and also a relationship between extra curricular activity and GPA but when we ran our test with both variables the relationship between Facebook time and GPA ceased to be significant and extra curricular activities became significant showing that it was in fact a mediating variable. Our results showed very interesting findings; however future research will be needed to confirm our findings.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

>> Return to abstract listings page
>> Return to the main research page

Media Effects Research Lab at College of Communications, Penn State University