Does Facebook make you miserable?

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For many people, a daily check of their Facebook account is routine. They will often check throughout the day.

While such routines have become a big part of our lives, for many, it’s making them miserable.

Five questions asked daily

A new study in PLoS One analyzed 82 young Facebook users who were on the site frequently. For 14 days, participants were sent a series of text messages every day containing links to an online survey asking them five questions:

  1. How do you feel right now?
  2. How worried are you right now?
  3. How lonely do you feel right now?
  4. How much have you used Facebook since the last time we asked?
  5. How much have you interacted with people “directly” since the last time we asked?

Participants were also asked to rate their life satisfaction at the beginning and end of the study.

Researchers found that as participants increased their use of Facebook over the two-week period, their state of well-being declined. They also noted that as people increased their direct activity with others – face time or even phone time – their well-being increased. Contrary to their predictions, researchers did not find that people used Facebook more when they were unhappy.

Facebook undermines happiness

“On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection,” explained Ethan Kross, social psychologist at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study. “But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result – it undermines it.”

“This is the advantage of studying Facebook use and well-being as a dynamic processes that unfold over time,” explained co-author Phillipe Verduyn. “It allows us to draw inferences about the likely causal sequence of Facebook use and well-being.”

So, for instance, while people were more likely to use Facebook when they were lonely, Facebook use and loneliness were both independent predictors of how happy a participant felt, not causal.

“Facebook use predicts declines in affective well-being,” according to the report. “It is possible that interacting with other people directly either enhances the frequency of such comparisons or magnifies their emotional impact.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, PLoS ONE

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