Does the world’s most popular social network have a correlation with a decline in your well-being, making it a bummer to keep connected?
TRUE: The correlation is there, but it’s similar to doing other activities that don’t involve actual social interaction.
Someone may need to engineer a dislike button for this one: Scientists at the University of Michigan have discovered that there’s a positive correlation between the amount of time people spend on Facebook and their level of dissatisfaction they have with their lives.
Facebook makes you sad, study suggests
Sky News reported that the scientists conducted the two-week "experience sampling" study by sending messages to 82 young adults with smartphones and Facebook accounts. Participants were "sent questions by text message at five random times each day for two weeks. Volunteers were also asked to rate their level of life satisfaction at the start and end of the study," the story said.
The questions asked them, among other things, how they felt at the moment, how lonely they were and how often they had been using Facebook or interacting with people one-on-one.
Less happy, less satisfied
The data determined that Facebook use resulted in gloominess, instead of already gloomy people turning to Facebook. As Discovery News wrote, "When people spent more time on Facebook, they became both less happy in the moment and less satisfied with their lives in general."
University of Michigan psychology professor Oscar Ybarra co-authored the study, which was published in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE. He told MSN News that his work is largely focused on social interaction and relationships.
"On the surface, people are having a lot of Facebook connections, but are they as good as the face-to-face real social connections that benefit people in all sorts of ways?” Ybarra said. “We were interested in seeing that.”
Ybarra said that other popular social networks — like Twitter and Instagram — might yield similar results as the Facebook study, though not enough research has been conducted.
“Different networks have different rules,” he said. “But to the extent that networks trigger similar responses and reactions as Facebook, they are probably similar.”
Perhaps the most profound takeaway of Ybarra’s research is that well-being is heightened with actual human interaction — in person or on the phone. He advised people to be aware of the time they spend isolated from others.
“Using the television or Internet can take time away from other things you could be doing for your health, like physical exercise or other direct social interaction,” he said.
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