Researchers from the University of Michigan say the longer people spend browsing on the social networking site, the worse they feel and the lower they rate their life satisfaction.
More than a billion people are signed up to Facebook and over half of those log in to check their accounts every day. With such widespread and frequent usage, there are understandably increasing concerns about what Facebook is doing to people’s mental health and quality of life.
The latest U.S study is one of many looking at the psychological consequences of social networking. It involved tracking participants for two weeks to monitor their feelings in relation to their Facebook usage.
Five times a day participants were texted links to surveys which asked them how they felt, how worried they were, how lonely they felt and how much they had used Facebook since the last survey.
The researchers also wanted to know how much real life interaction these people had.
The results showed that the longer participants spent on Facebook, the worse they felt, and those who used it the most displayed the worst life satisfaction levels.
The researchers also found that the loneliest people spent more time on Facebook.
“On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it,” researchers said.
So why do people use Facebook? According to this study, almost all participants said they used the site to keep in touch with their friends, while less than a quarter (23%) said they used it to meet new people.
Most people said they used the site to post positive things, while 36% said they would share bad things on Facebook too.
It is thought browsing other people’s photographs of fun nights out, tranquil beach holidays and family occasions can make you feel like you’re missing out on something. People tend to compare their own lives with those they see on their newsfeed.
Internet psychologist Graham Jones, who was not involved with the study, said it adds to a growing concern that Facebook has negative consequences on people’s mental health. However, he added that there is also evidence to suggest the site has positive effects on users.
It is important to remember that most people project a biased image of themselves on Facebook. If you think Facebook is making you feel worse about yourself, it may be worth staying away from the site for a while. It might also be worth talking to a counsellor who can help you deal with any Low Self-Esteem issues, and, if necessary, help tackle any Internet Addictions.
View and comment on the original BBC article.