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Study: Why Facebook is making people sad

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According to a new study conducted by sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge at Utah Valley University, research showed a correlation between a Facebook user’s disposition about their life and the amount of time spent on the social network. Approximately 425 students were asked to identify how much they agreed or disagreed with statements like “Life is fair” and “Many of my friends have a better life than me.” In addition, the students were asked about how much time they spent on Facebook, their number of Facebook friends as well as how many of those friends they had actually met in person. The researchers also attempted controlling for factors like relationship status, gender, religious beliefs and race.

facebook-timelineSeeing a pattern emerge, the two sociologists discovered that as people spend more time on Facebook, they start to believe that others have a better life than they do. Within the paper, Chou and Edge stated “Those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives. Furthermore, those that included more people whom they did not personally know as their Facebook “friends” agreed more that others had better lives.”

Published in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking journal, the study also concluded that people that spent less time socializing on Facebook and spent more time with real-life friends were less likely to be unhappy. Since Facebook users are far more likely to depict the happiest times of their lives through carefully curated photos rather than catalog depressing events, many users are more likely to believe that happiness is a constant in their friend’s lives. An earlier study conducted last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics also found that children and teenagers can develop “Facebook Depression” when being overwhelmed with positive status updates and photos of happy friends.