Facebook is No Friend to Mental Healthby Jennifer Gibson, PharmD | September 10, 2013
Roughly a half billion people interact on Facebook every day, with many more engaging in other social networking sites. With all these friends, it would seem that social networking followers have a great support system and a happy life. New research points out, however, that Facebook may actually be undermining well-being and life satisfaction.
Researchers at the University of Michigan examined two weeks of Facebook use and concluded that the more people use Facebook, the more negative they feel about their life moment-to-moment, and the more dissatisfied they were with their life in general over time. The results were not affected by gender, self-reported loneliness, baseline symptoms of depression, the size of the social network, the motivation for using Facebook, or the perceived level of support from Facebook friends.
Several other studies have reported negative associations with social networking, including tension between romantic partners. Social networking sites foster attachment issues, uncertainty, and partner surveillance, all of which lead to negative relationship outcomes. Another study reported that the use of social networking sites leads to decreased intimacy in relationships, mostly owing to perceptions about the quality and quantity of the romantic partner’s use of social networking. Divorce and cheating has also been attributed to Facebook, especially in relationships that are less than 3 years old.
Social networking sites appear to offer a means for individuals with low self-esteem or difficulties establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships to grow relationships and share connections with other people. However, these individuals most in need of positive social relationships actually suffer from social networking sites owing to an inability to communicate appropriately and negative reactions from other people, which led to lower self-esteem and negative effects on well-being in several studies.
All of this is not to say that there are no benefits to social networking, or that all people who use it end up depressed and dissatisfied with life. Patients with chronic illnesses or rare conditions are able to find information on their diseases and gain support from others around the globe, which has led to improved disease education and clinical outcomes. And, younger people who have grown up in the digital age are living proof of the transformation of intimate relationships. For many in this demographic, larger Internet-based social networks lead to higher levels of life satisfaction and social support. The internet may offer permanent relationships in a mobile world.
Most people spend their days constantly connected to things (phones, computers, tablets) and not to other people. Growing a digital network of people who “like” you, “share” things with you, and want to be your “friend” does not, at least according to recent research, create life-sustaining, life-fulfilling friendships. Social networks can certainly be used in a healthy, appropriate way and offer a modern way to communicate. But, they cannot replace true, meaningful relationships that lead to improved overall well-being.
Afsar B (2013). The relation between Internet and social media use and the demographic and clinical parameters, quality of life, depression, cognitive function and sleep quality in hemodialysis patients: Social media and hemodialysis. General hospital psychiatry PMID: 23948575
Clayton RB, Nagurney A, & Smith JR (2013). Cheating, Breakup, and Divorce: Is Facebook Use to Blame? Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking PMID: 23745615
Clerkin EM, Smith AR, & Hames JL (2013). The interpersonal effects of Facebook reassurance seeking. Journal of affective disorders PMID: 23850160
Forest AL, & Wood JV (2012). When social networking is not working: individuals with low self-esteem recognize but do not reap the benefits of self-disclosure on Facebook. Psychological science, 23 (3), 295-302 PMID: 22318997
Rodbard HW, Cariou B, Zinman B, Handelsman Y, Philis-Tsimikas A, Skjøth TV, Rana A, Mathieu C, & The BEGIN Once Long Trial Investigators (2013). Comparison of insulin degludec with insulin glargine in insulin-naive subjects with Type 2 diabetes: a 2-year randomized, treat-to-target trial. Diabetic medicine : a journal of the British Diabetic Association PMID: 23952326
Hand, M.M., et al., Facebook and romantic relationships: intimacy and couple satisfaction associated with online social network use. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw, 2013. 16(1): p. 8-13.
Hand MM, Thomas D, Buboltz WC, Deemer ED, & Buyanjargal M (2013). Facebook and romantic relationships: intimacy and couple satisfaction associated with online social network use. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 16 (1), 8-13 PMID: 23101932
Manago AM, Taylor T, & Greenfield PM (2012). Me and my 400 friends: the anatomy of college students’ Facebook networks, their communication patterns, and well-being. Developmental psychology, 48 (2), 369-80 PMID: 22288367
Henderson MH Jr, Rieger MA, Miller F, & Kaelin A (1990). Influence of parental age on degree of curvature in idiopathic scoliosis. The Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume, 72 (6), 910-3 PMID: 2365723
Positive Attitude and Brain Connections
“Talk” Therapy’s Impact on the Course of Schizophrenia
Mind Your Dishes – Mundane Tasks to Improve Mental Health
Sex – Is It All In the Brain?
HINTS Exam – Eliminating False Negatives for Posterior Strokes
Is There an Association Between Brain Size and Intelligence?
Stephen Hawking turns 73 today, defeating the odds of a daunting diagnosis by over half a century. The famous theoretical physicist popularized modern... READ MORE →
Do not miss out ever again. Subscribe to get our newsletter delivered to your inbox a few times a month.
Like what you read? Give to Brain Blogger sponsored by GNIF with a tax-deductible donation.Make A Donation