Maybe you already knew this from your own experiences, but a newly-published academic study from the University of Michigan (via The LA Times) has found that people tended to feel worse and less satisfied after using Facebook.
The study, which has U of M Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory director Ethan Kross listed as the lead author, sent regular surveys to 82 young adults asking how they felt and how much they had been using Facebook. The results found that Facebook use predicted a “decline in subjective well-being”, irrespective of whether the time spent on Facebook was viewed as supportive.
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Here’s an excerpt from the paper’s concluding comment:
On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling such needs by allowing people to instantly connect. Rather than enhancing well-being, as frequent interactions with supportive “offline” social networks powerfully do, the current findings demonstrate that interacting with Facebook may predict the opposite result for young adults—it may undermine it.
Researchers also tracked direct interactions with others – either face-to-face or over the phone – and didn’t find the same negative results.
Caveats included in the study noted that the impact of Facebook’s deleterious emotional effects was relatively small and the survey used only a “single bipolar scale” instead of two scales that tracked positive and negative affect separately
A lone study isn’t quite cause for us to all run fleeing from Facebook, but it might prompt some introspection about how we spend our time online. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping an eye out for more research about the effect social media has on our lives.
Image credit: Photodisc