UPenn Students Find Facebook Half As Valuable As Email

A small study (84 students) conducted at the University of Pennsylvania yields some interesting results about the use of mobile phones (calling and texting), email, and Facebook among college students. Students were asked which of the above services they would rather give up for a week.

The answer: email, texts and cellphone calls are more valuable than Facebook.

The study asked what students thought would be “fair compensation” for going without each service for a week – here are the numbers:

  • $99 for email
  • $85 for texting
  • $73 for cellphone calls
  • down to $44 for Facebook (less than half the amount requested for loss of texting or mobile calls)
  • only $27 for instant messaging

Each group of students was prevented from using one of those types of communication methods for a week.  Those who couldn’t text compensated by calling more frequently, vice versa.  However, those who couldn’t use Facebook “barely compensated” for not having the social network as a communication tool, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Why was it so easy for students to give up Facebook?  Perhaps because the study found that “participants considered only 16% of their Facebook buddies to be their real friends.”

While the study group is admittedly small, it raises an interesting question – 250 million people check Facebook each day, but is it ‘worth’ as much to them as mobile calls, text messaging, or email? How much would this data vary among universities, or with a younger demographic?

The study included 84 students ages 18-22 and was conducted in November 2010.