Do Social Networks Help to Improve Student Academic Performance? The Case of Vk.com and Russian Students
A number of researchers have studied the effect of social networks on student academic performance, but the results are not only contradictory but also limited by the use of self-reported estimations of social network use. This paper overcomes this problem, however, as we collect unique data on the real time spent by Russian students in the Vk.com social network. Our results suggest that time spent on the social network before an exam can significantly improve student performance on the exam. The time spent online, however, influences exam results indirectly via peer effects rather than directly. Accordingly, social networks cannot only bring joy, but they can also be a productive channel for exploiting peer effects if the students are connecting with bright and talented classmates.