The Effects of Internet Use on Students' GPA

 

Student Researchers

Pauline Ferzetti, Tim Jaap, Teckla King, Erin Tench, & Jen L.Thomas (BA Students)
This paper is based on a project from an undergraduate Media Effects course.

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

Introduction

The advent of the internet has led to the rapid growth of the variety - and amount - of information that is now available. While online technology has benefited a great number of people, it is also felt that the internet might replace other activities that could be more beneficial or productive. In other words, it could serve as a distractor, lending credence to the statement that "time spent doing one thing cannot be spent doing another." This study specifically examines the amount of internet usage and its effects on college students' GPAs.

Hypothesis

Based on Distraction theory, it was hypothesized that the amount of time spent on the internet would be negatively related to a student's GPA.

Method

One hundred and twenty respondents were selected using a systematic random sample. Each respondent was given a survey which had items pertaining to amount and type of internet usage, as well as questions related to academic performance (GPA) and some demographics.

Results

An analysis of the data indicate that there is no correlation between the independent and dependent variables. Specifically, amount of time spent on the internet does not have any effect on GPA. Since the internet probably combines characteristics of both television and newspapers, the correlation between amount of time spent on television and newspapers and GPA were also examined. The results indicate that the more time spent watching television, the lower the GPA. However, increased newspaper usage resulted in a higher GPA.

Conclusions

While the results indicate the lack of a relationship between overall internet usage and GPAs, it is interesting to note that some of the traditional media such as print and television (whose properties are characteristic of the internet as well) have a significant effect on academic performance. This is of enormous educational significance, particularly to practitioners of online learning methods. It suggests that the more TV-like aspect of this new medium might hinder academic performance whereas the more newspaper-like attributes of the internet may indeed serve to enhance college students' GPA.

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

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