Study finds Twitter has a negative effect on learning

Study finds Twitter has a negative effect on learning
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Twitter may have a negative effect on learning, according to the findings of a new study. 

A working paper published this month found that the online platform undermined study participants' intellectual attainment.

“It’s quite detrimental,” Gian Paolo Barbetta, a professor of economic policy at Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy, and the paper’s lead author, told The Washington Post. “I can’t say whether something is changing in the mind, but I can say that something is definitely changing in the behavior and the performance.”

Researchers studied roughly 1,500 students in 70 Italian high schools in 2016 and 2017. Half of the students used Twitter to analyze the 1904 novel, “The Late Mattia Pascal,” a satire of self-knowledge and self-destruction. Students posted reflections on the text and quotes, interacting with tweets from their classmates.

The other students used traditional classroom teaching methods, while all students' performance was graded based on a test measuring their comprehension and retention of the book.

The study found that students who used Twitter saw performance on the test reduced by about 25 percent to 40 percent of a standard deviation from the average result.

Researchers found the decline was most notable among higher-achieving students, including women, native Italians and those who scored higher on a baseline test.  

“As results accumulate, we definitely should be more wary about how we use social platforms,” Barbetta told the Post.

The Hill has reached out to Twitter for comment. The social networking platform declined the Post's request for comment. Twitter's mission statement says that its goal is to improve "a free and global conversation."