Grades Dive With Internet Use During Class Time, Study Finds

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FRIDAY, June 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Checking Facebook and emails during class leads to lower grades for college students of varying intelligence levels, a new study finds.

While this might seem like a no-brainer, previous studies had suggested that smarter people are better at multitasking and filtering out distractions, the Michigan State University researchers said.

For this study, published online recently in the journal Computers & Education, the investigators looked at non-academic Internet use -- such as emailing, reading the news or posting updates on social media sites -- in an introductory psychology class of 500 students. In this type of lecture hall setting, professors often have to compete for students' attention as they use their laptops and smartphones.

The more the students used the Internet for non-academic purposes during class, the lower their exam scores. This was true for students of all levels of intellectual ability, the findings showed.

"Students of all intellectual abilities should be responsible for not letting themselves be distracted by use of the Internet," lead investigator Susan Ravizza, associate professor of psychology, said in a university news release.

She and her colleagues also found that students didn't believe that non-academic Internet use during classes would affect their grades.

However, Internet use is a different type of multitasking in that it can be so engaging, the researchers said.

Also, it would be nearly impossible to keep smartphones and other devices out of lecture halls, according to Ravizza.

"What would you do, have hundreds of people put their cellphones in a pile and pick them up after class?" she wondered.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers health tips for college students.