Facebook was designed by a student for students, so though it is now open to everyone above the age of 13, it’s little wonder you’d be hard pressed to find an undergrad not using it. However Facebook is a lot more than just a crippling source of student procrastination, it has been found that spending time on the social network has a direct bearing on the well-being of young adults. A study entitled “Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults” has demonstrated just that.
Participants were texted a survey at random points in the day that asked a series of questions that would deduce how they felt and how much they had used Facebook since the previous survey. This ran for a period of 2 weeks. The study found that Facebook led to a negative shift in how the participants felt moment-to-moment and how satisfied they were with their lives, especially over the 2 week period. The study also controlled to see if it wasn’t Facebook making you miserable and in fact you were unhappy so you turned to Facebook. The study found no evidence to suggest that being unhappy was the reason to turn to 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,”
This essentially means spending time on Facebook is counter intuitive. By design it is supposed to help people to connect and stay in the know, however the reported decrease in well-being shows that social media is a recent societal phenomena that we are still truly getting to grips with.
One of the fundamental reasons Facebook may effect your morale is the content that people post on there. More so than not people will post the highlights of their lives. The study showed that 78% of participants used the social network to share good things with friends whilst only 36% of people shared bad things with friends. The result of this is that when browsing your news feed you are bombarded by people seemingly having the times of their lives while you’re not. To add to this a friend of mine commented saying through her news feed she saw the events she wasn’t invited to. That is hardly going to make you feel good about yourself.
However there is hope. It’s called real world interaction. Shut off the pseudo connections of new media and connect with other people the way we always have as a species, face-to-face.
This study only focused on Facebook, but it would be interesting to see if other social networks such as Twitter and Instagram would have a similar effect. Do you agree that Facebook has a negative effect?
Image from Noize Photography