by Amanda MacMillan
Our good friend Facebook: It helps us stay connected, share cute pics of our pets, and can even help us get healthy -- but it doesn't necessarily make us feel happier, according to new research from the University of Michigan. In fact, frequent use of the social network may predict a decline in a person's well-being, the study found, which appears today in the journal PLoS ONE.
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Researchers recruited 82 young adults and texted them at random times over a two-week period, asking them questions like: How do you feel right now? How worried / lonely are you? How much have you used Facebook since the last time we asked? How much have you interacted with real people? And overall, they found that the more people used Facebook during one time period, the worse they subsequently felt.
Those who used Facebook the most also tended to rate their overall life satisfaction the lowest. Alternatively, interacting with people face-to-face or over the phone led study participants to feel better over time.
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I know what you're thinking: People probably just use Facebook more when they're already feeling down, right? Well, the study looked for that, too. And while people did tend to log on more when they felt lonely, "loneliness and Facebook use both independently predicted how happy participants subsequently felt," the authors wrote. "Thus, it was not the case that Facebook served as a proxy for feeling bad or lonely."
This isn't the first time we've read about the dark side of social media: We know it can help facilitate creepy cyberstalking, make you feel like you're back in high school, and, in some cases, make you gain weight. It's a lot to think about -- and a lot to consider when checking your newsfeed for the 1,800th time in one day.
Have you noticed how time spent on Facebook affects your mood?
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by Amanda MacMillan