Facebook Study: More Use Leads To Jealousy, Depression

A new Facebook study doesn’t paint the social networking site in a good light, at least with its contributions to one’s emotional health.

According to a report from the University of Missouri News Bureau, heavy use of the social networking service can lead to increased feelings of depression and jealousy.

Margaret Duffy, a professor and chair of strategic communication at the MU School of Journalism, said the purpose for using the site makes a difference in how one responds to it.

“Facebook can be a fun and healthy activity if users take advantage of the site to stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives… However, 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.”

Duffy and Edson Tandoc, a former doctoral student at MU and now an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, conducted the survey that would turn into the Facebook study, and they found that users, “who engage in ‘surveillance use’ of Facebook also experience symptoms of depression, while those who use the site simply to stay connected do not suffer negative effects,” the news site reported.

“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 can be a very positive resource for many people, but if it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect. It is important for Facebook users to be aware of these risks so they can avoid this kind of behavior when using Facebook.”

Tandoc added that social media literacy was of the utmost importance, and that based on the Facebook study as well as others, “using Facebook can exert positive effects on well-being” except for “when it triggers envy among users.”

“Users should be self-aware that positive self-presentation is an important motivation in using social media, so it is to be expected that many users would only post positive things about themselves. This self-awareness, hopefully, can lessen feelings of envy.”

Huffington Post reported on a study last year that showed the longer amount of time users spend on Facebook, the worse they feel, so these findings aren’t new, but they do affirm the negative effects of too much social media.

Some have suggested resolving to check it only once a day in a timed session. But what do you think, readers? Do you agree with the results of this Facebook study, and what have you done to curb your addiction?

[Image via Gil C / Shutterstock]