If you feel a little blue today, too much time on social media may be the culprit. A study published by the Public Library of Science found logging into Facebook predicts a decline in subjective well-being. In other words, Facebook is a mood killer.
Researchers texted the study’s participants five times a day for two weeks and asked them to the following questions on a scale of 1 to 100:
- How do you feel right now?
- How worried are you right now?
- How lonely do you feel right now?
- How much have you used Facebook since the last time we asked?
- How much have you interacted with other people directly (face-to-face or on the phone) since the last time we asked?
The participants also took other assessments measuring their satisfaction with life, motivation for using Facebook, loneliness, number of Facebook friends, level of depression, self-esteem, and how supported they felt on Facebook. Even after controlling for all these variables, researchers still found that the more time the study’s participants spent on Facebook, the worse they felt. Furthermore, those who spent greater amounts of time on Facebook during the two week period of the study experienced a significant decline in life satisfaction in that time. The more time on Facebook, the sharper the decline.
You can read the original study here.
While social media can be wholesome and fun, it’s important to understand the less obvious side effects. Teens and young adults especially should understand contribution social media makes to feelings of dissatisfaction, sadness, and loneliness. Periodically taking breaks from social media can keep our lives in balance and help us remember just what we all did before smartphones. Parents, lead by example– kids often can’t tell the difference between a work email and checking Facebook, so follow any screen time rules you set scrupulously and encourage frequent tech-free family time. Demonstrating a healthy screen/life balance will help kids understand there is life unplugged.
Enjoy life off-line!