Facebook and academic performance: Reconciling a media sensation with data


  • Josh Pasek Stanford University
  • eian more University of Pennsylvania
  • Eszter Hargittai




A recent draft manuscript suggested that Facebook use might be related to lower academic achievement in college and graduate school (Karpinski, 2009). The report quickly became a media sensation and was picked up by hundreds of news outlets in a matter of days. However, the results were based on correlational data in a draft manuscript that had not been published, or even considered for publication. This paper attempts to replicate the results reported in the press release using three data sets: one with a large sample of undergraduate students from the University of Illinois at Chicago, another with a nationally representative cross sectional sample of American 14- to 22-year-olds, as well as a longitudinal panel of American youth aged 14-23. In none of the samples do we find a robust negative relationship between Facebook use and grades. Indeed, if anything, Facebook use is more common among individuals with higher grades. We also examined how changes in academic performance in the nationally representative sample related to Facebook use and found that Facebook users were no different from non-users.

Author Biographies

Josh Pasek, Stanford University

Ph.D. candidate studying political communication at Stanford University. Josh's papers have been published in Communication Research, Political Communication, the American Journal of Education, and the Journal of Applied Developmental Science and have been presented at meetings for the American Political Science Association, the International Communication Association, the American Association for Public Opinion Research, and the Association of Consumer Research among other locales. He recently finished serving as the Assistant Editor for Political Communication and is co-director of the Methods of Analysis Program in the Social Sciences at Stanford University. His research interests include political socialization, civic education, the role of media as a democratic institution, survey design, public opinion, and civic engagement.

eian more, University of Pennsylvania

Senior Research Coordinator for the Adolescent Risk Communication Institute within The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Eszter Hargittai

Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Faculty Associate of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University where she heads the Web Use Project.


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How to Cite

Pasek, J., more, eian, & Hargittai, E. (2009). Facebook and academic performance: Reconciling a media sensation with data. First Monday, 14(5). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v14i5.2498