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Facebook doesn’t make your stupid. Whoops.

Remember how the media leapt on the study that showed that being on Facebook lowered your grades in school? The study was, shall we say, flawed. But it was a media-seeking rocket. Now, 2.5 weeks later, Josh Pasek, eian more, and Eszter Hargittai have published “Facebook and academic performance: Reconciling a media sensation with data” at First Monday, a peer-reviewed site.

Here’s the abstract:

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.v

And what are the chances that the media are going to trumpet these results that are based on actual data and careful analysis?

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