A new study has investigated the correlation between Facebook and happiness.
It has revealed that sustained use of Facebook over a period of time can have a negative impact on users’ well-being.
Studies that have been conducted in the past have often been flawed with unsubstantiated results.
Facebook themselves revealed data in 2016 that suggested that the average user spends 50 minutes a day on the site.
Other studies have suggested that some of the techniques used by Facebook are similar to those used by gambling institutions.
The study involved 5,208 people who were recruited over three ‘waves’ (2013, 2014, 2015). These were thought to be a representative sample of the US population and each waves actions were monitored for two years.
The study was conducted by Holly B. Shakya and Nicholas A. Christakis of Yale and the University of California, respectively.
It was revealed that Facebook interactions DID have a negative effect on well-being and the usage also played a part in reducing that well-being. It found that interactions with social media such as updating status or clicking ‘like’ contributed to a 5-8% fall in self-reported mental health.
Writing for The Harvard Business Review, authors Shakya and Christakis explained that to calculate ‘well-being’ they measured self-reported mental and physical health.
The group analysed data about clicks, likes and number of friends to identify which activities had the greatest impact. ‘Liking’ others content appeared to have the largest reduction in “self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.”
This is the first study that has suggested that the amount of time spent on Facebook contributes to reduced well-being. It is thought that the reason is because users feel that they are engaging in human interaction. However, this form of interaction has far fewer benefits than face to face interactions.
The good news is that the study concluded that there were benefits to online interactions so there was a ‘trade off’ between the two worlds.