Using Facebook can make you depressed, study finds

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For most of us, browsing Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has become a regular daily activity. For some people, checking Facebook is one of the first things they do after waking up in the morning.

But a new study has found that using the popular social networking site might not be good for your mental health.

The study, carried out by the University of Missouri-Columbia, has found using Facebook can lead you to become envious of your friends, which in turn can lead to depression.

The study, which surveyed 700 Facebook users found that those who engage in what is known as “surveillance use” experienced symptoms of depression.

Surveillance use occurs when people browse profiles and postings in order to see what their friends have been up to compared to their own lives.

This basically means that looking at the photos of your friends recent holiday snaps, new car or other expensive purchases is probably going to give you the blues.

This is in contrast to users that only used the site in order to stay connected with with friends or family. These social users did not experience any negative effects when using the site.

How people use Facebook makes a difference in how they respond to it, according to Margaret Duffy, a professor and chair of strategic communication at the MU School of Journalism.

“If Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship–things that cause envy among users–use of the site can lead to feelings of depression.”

“We found that if Facebook users experience envy of the activities and lifestyles of their friends on Facebook, they are much more likely to report feelings of depression,” Duffy said.

Facebook has more than 1.35 billion active users each month so the 700 surveyed in this study obviously only gives a miniscule insight in to user behaviour.

However, it perhaps goes some way to explain why people become obsessed with Facebook by checking up on their friends in order to try and keep up with the Joneses, as it were.

How much time do you spend on Facebook?

Do you ever find yourself being nosey and checking up on your Facebook friends?

Does your partner or someone you know spend an unhealthy amount of time on Facebook?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

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1 Comment

  1. Maekong Mike on

    Actually, no. My life is separate and distinct from everyone else’s. To try to correlate them would be to willfully participate in nonsense. We are running divergent courses. They cannot, within the realm of reason, intersect. What kinship then can light have with the darkness?