The effect of Facebook use, self-discipline and parenting styles on the academic achievement of high school and university students
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
While Facebook is primarily used as a means to communicate with friends, it may serve as a distractor from study. Laptops and tablets with Internet access are almost ubiquitous among primary, secondary and tertiary students in New Zealand. Research on the effects of Facebook use on students’ academic achievement appears inconclusive and there was no New Zealand based research to date. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Facebook use, self-discipline and parenting styles on academic achievement through an online study. High school (n = 106) and university students (n = 211) and their parents were recruited from a variety of locations around New Zealand.
Facebook use only affected academic achievement for high school students and the strength of the relationship between Facebook use and academic outcomes was weak. Furthermore, the regression model found that overall Facebook use did not predict academic achievement. It is argued that Facebook use does not directly affect academic grades of students as it is an amalgamation of behaviours and/or the expression of traits (e.g., low self-discipline) that lead to non-task related activities. Self-discipline and parenting style, on the other hand, were the strongest predictors of academic achievement. High school and university students who were more able to manage distractions and procrastinating activities had higher grade point average (GPA) scores and overall pass rates. Students with authoritative parents were more likely to achieve high academic grades. In contrast, students whose parents had a permissive parenting style were at high risk of low academic achievement. Teaching students to delay an immediate reward in order to achieve a long-term goal is an important skill that needs to be socialised early in life as it is a pathway to better academic outcomes. While the study does not support the idea that Facebook has a direct effect on academic outcomes, further studies on other social networking sites are needed for replication.