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Facebook® and Academic Performance 1 Running head: FACEBOOK® AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE Facebook® and Academic Performance Paul A. Kirschner1 & Aryn C. Karpinski2 1 Open University of the Netherlands 2 The Ohio State University
   Facebook  ®  and Academic Performance 1 Running head: FACEBOOK  ®  AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE Facebook  ®  and Academic Performance Paul A. Kirschner  1  & Aryn C. Karpinski 2   1 Open University of the Netherlands 2 The Ohio State University Corresponding author: Prof. dr. Paul A. Kirschner, Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies (CELSTEC), Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, +31 45 5762361,   Facebook  ®  and Academic Performance 2 Abstract There is much talk of a change in modern youth – often referred to as digital natives or Homo Zappiens – with respect to their ability to simultaneously process multiple channels of information. In other words, kids today can multitask. Unfortunately for proponents of this  position, there is much empirical documentation concerning the negative effects of attempting to simultaneously process different streams of information showing that such behavior leads to both increased study time to achieve learning parity and an increase in mistakes while processing information than those who are sequentially or serially processing that same information. This article presents the preliminary results of a descriptive and exploratory survey study involving Facebook use, often carried out simultaneously with other study activities, and its relation to academic performance as measured by self-reported Grade Point Average (GPA) and hours spent studying per week. Results show that Facebook  ®  users reported having lower GPAs and spend fewer hours per week studying than nonusers.   Facebook  ®  and Academic Performance 3 Facebook  ®  and Academic Performance We read it every day in the newspapers, hear it constantly on the news, and thanks to our Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, we also get it 24/7 online. The “it” is the news about today’s children who are spoiled, love luxury, have bad manners, have contempt for authority, are disrespectful to their elders, contradict their parents, and tyrannize their teachers. We also are constantly being reminded of the fact that the world is passing through troubling times, and that young people today think of nothing but themselves, are impatient, talk as if they know everything, and what passes for wisdom for us is foolishness for them. The only problem with the aforementioned is that the first statement was uttered by Socrates, sometime around 300 BCE and the second statement was uttered by Peter the Hermit, a priest of Amiens and a key figure during the First Crusade, who died July 8, 1115 in Neufmoutier by Huy in Belgium. A glance in the myriad of scientific journals, academic book sellers, and web sites cannot help but make us think that today’s generation of children is radically different from its  predecessors. It appears that the Baby Boomers have spawned Generation X, the MTV generation, Net Geners, Millenials, Generation Y / iGeneration, and even generation Z (Howe & Strauss, 2000; Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005; Prensky, 2001; Rosen, 2007; Tapscott, 1998). At a recent conference of the Western Psychological Association (i.e., April 23-26, 2009 in Portland Oregon), Rosen defined these children as follows: Welcome to the Net Generation. Born in the 1980s and 1990s, they spend their days immersed in a “media diet” accumulating a fulltime job plus overtime devouring entertainment, communication, and every form of electronic media. They are master multitaskers, social networkers, electronic communicators and the first to rush to any new technology. They were born surrounded by technology and with every passing year they   Facebook  ®  and Academic Performance 4 add more tools to their electronic repertoire. They live in social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, and Second Life gathering friends; they text more than they talk on the phone; and they Twitter the night away often sleeping with their cell phones vibrating  by their sides. The assumption is that these children now have acquired specific new multitasking skills that they are able to apply in a learning setting, and that education as we know it is frustrating them in the application of these multitasking skills. Unfortunately, most empirical research shows that this is not the case finding either that (1) children do not possess these skills, or (2) that acting in this way negatively affects the processing of information. This article first tackles these two widely-held, modern-day “truths,” and then presents the results of a preliminary study on the potential relationship between Facebook  ®  (FB) and academic performance. We Hold These Truths to be Self-evident We see children today doing their homework, watching YouTube ® , instant messaging (IM), Twittering, using FB, surfing websites, and so forth in a way that seems as if they are doing all of this simultaneously. In other words, today’s learners are multitasking homo zappiens  (Veen & Vrakking, 2006). Consequently, the assumption is made that these children are also able to do all of this effectively, efficiently, and without a loss to the present task. But is this so? Is the youth of today a homo zappien , and can children, adolescents and emerging adults really multitask?  Homo Zappiens Wim Veen proposed the term Homo Zappiens, referring to the new generation of learners who, according to him, unlike their predecessors, learn in a considerably different way. According to
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