Aug 16, 2013

    Feel blue? Facebook may be the cause

    PEOPLE who use Facebook may feel more connected, but less happy.

    A study of young adults released on Wednesday found that the more that people used Facebook, the worse they felt subsequently.

    "On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection," said University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the study.

    "But rather than enhance well-being... Facebook use (yields) the opposite result - it undermines it."

    The researchers recruited 82 young adults who had smartphones and Facebook accounts, and assessed their subjective well-being by texting them at random times, five times a day, for two weeks.

    The researchers said the study, published in the scientific journal Plos, was believed to be the first measuring Facebook's impact on happiness and satisfaction.

    "This is a result of critical importance because it goes to the very heart of the influence that social networks may have on people's lives," said University of Michigan cognitive neuroscientist John Jonides, another author of the paper.

    The researchers monitored the group by asking them how they felt, whether they were worried or lonely, how much they used Facebook and how much they interacted "directly" with people.

    "The more (that) people used Facebook...the worse they felt the next time we text-messaged them," the researchers wrote.

    "The more they used Facebook over two weeks, the more their life-satisfaction levels declined over time."

    In contrast, personal interactions led people to feel better over time, they noted.

    The scientists also found that people were not more likely to use Facebook when they felt bad, although they did use the social network more frequently when they were lonely.