Social media overload affects students’ academic performance, finds NUIG study

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Social media 'depletes the self-control needed to study diligently and develop one’s career'



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18 September 2019 | 0

Social media diminishes self-control and has a negative effect on academic performance, according to research from NUI Galway (NUIG). The study, which was carried out by the School of Business & Economics, examined social media overload and its associated problems.

Social media is a global force; Facebook alone boasts 2.7 billion users each month. While the study acknowledges the benefits of social media, it asserts that its problematic effects should be more closely scrutinised.

When an individual is overwhelmed and exhausted by their exposure to communication and information from social media, they are experiencing social media overload. The NUIG team’s research focused on identifying its causes, and how it affects the academic performance of third level students.




Reseachers found that social media overload is triggered by fear of missing out (FoMO). The third level students who experienced the highest levels of social media overload garnered the worst academic results.

As to why this relationship exists, the data suggests that being overloaded by social media diminishes self-control, which is an essential ingredient for good academic performance. Self-control is required to study each day, to submit high-quality assignments, and to partake in extracurricular activities. Engaging in social media diminishes this control, meaning these activities are less likely to be conducted.

“Social media overload is becoming an ever-increasing problem in modern society, so it is important to understand its causes and consequences,” said lead author of the study, Dr Eoin Whelan, senior lecturer in business information systems, NUIG. “The insights from our study can be used to develop targeted cognitive and technological interventions to mitigate social media overload, for example through self-control training, and the development of emotion sensing technology which adapts automatically when a user is becoming overloaded.”  

The study was published in the journal Computers and Education

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