Show Hide image

Studying while using Facebook lowers grades, says research

Facebook users scored 20 per cent lower in exams than non-users.

Students who used Facebook while studying or doing homework scored 20 per cent lower in exams than those who did not, a study revealed on Tuesday.

Conducted on 219 US university students aged 19-54 years, the study found that Facebook users scored a grade point average of 3.06 out of 4, whereas those who did not use the website while studying, scored 3.82 on average.

The study was conducted by Netherlands psychologist Paul Kirschner of the Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies at the Open University of the Netherlands, and Aryn C Karpinski of Ohio State University.

According to Kirschner, most people have social networking sites, emails and instant messengers running in the background while carrying out other tasks. The study questions the stereotype that young people are adept at multitasking.

While many think constant task-switching allows them to get more done in less time, in reality, it extends the amount of time needed to carry out tasks and leads to more mistakes, he added.

However, three quarters of those who used the social networking site while revising, said they did not believe that spending time on the site affected their academic performance, the survey added.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.