According to a new study, Facebook has more power to make people feel depressed about our lives than previously thought. The study, done by the University of Michigan, found that those that use Facebook regularly wound up feeling bad about themselves after a two week period, and their mood became worse moment to moment, the more they prowled around the site. No matter how large their network, or how supportive their friends, or why they chose to pop visit Facebook to begin with; study participants still wound up feeling down about where they were in their lives.
The lead author of the study, Ethan Kross, social psychologist with the University of Michigan has said that researchers were finally able to show the “moment-to-moment” effect on people’s overall moods throughout the day as they used Facebook. He said that the researchers took many different personality measures, as well as taking note of the dimensions of behaviors to use as a baseline. For instance, the amount of time a person spent on Facebook. He said, however that none of the information they gathered changed the results. The bottom line was that the more people used Facebook, the more they experienced a drop in their moods.
This study adds to another that examined the effect of social media on a person’s well being. In that study, there were mixed diagnoses because taking a look at a person’s own profile can make them feel better. A recent survey of those that use Facebook has even suggested that it might actually help to make a person feel more satisfied in their lives, their political participation, their social trust and civic engagement.
On the other hand, other studies have found that Facebook has the power to make people envious of what their friends are doing, and even their profile, which leaves people feeling diminished and worth less. On top of that, an additional study has found that those who have lower levels of self esteem don’t benefit from playing with their image online.
The most recent study actually followed people over an amount of time. The study done by the University of Michigan involved 82 college aged participants. This is one of the biggest groups of people on Facebook, which has almost 700 million users daily. The participants were given a questionnaire to answer five times daily for two weeks, which asked them to rate their feeling of well being at the beginning and end of the survey.
It appears that loneliness was a significant factor in how much people were on Facebook, as well as how badly they felt after using it, but worry did not have any effect at all.
While they have found that people did feel worse after spending time on Facebook, they aren’t actually sure what aspects of the site made people bummed out. It’s another unknown variable that will require continued study.
The study did find that people tended to put their best out there on their profile, and that might have something to do with why so many people wound up feeling a diminished sense of worth.