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It's official - Facebook makes you miserable, according to new research

People’s emotional life improves significantly when they quit the social network for a week, a study found.

Image: Shutterstock

IT’S OFFICIAL – FACEBOOK makes you miserable.

With over 1.5 billion active accounts, the social media website is ubiquitous in many people’s lives now.

And Facebook comes into its own over the festive season, as the platform for commemorating work parties, family reunions, and the awe-struck little faces on Christmas morning after Santa has slung his hook.

But it has a dark side. According to a new study, all that lurking and liking is more likely to make you miserable than merry.

Excessive use of social media can lead to increased envy. The study warned that “lurking” on social media – viewing without communicating – can have particularly negative consequences.

Among the study’s findings were:

  • People’s emotional life improves significantly when they quit Facebook for a week.
  • The effect of quitting the site is greatest for users feeling high levels of Facebook envy.
  • The positive effect of quitting Facebook to be greatest for heavy users and to be nonexistent for light Facebook users.

shutterstock_249968239 File image. Source: Shutterstock

Satisfaction

The study, carried out by scientists at the University of Copenhagen and published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, also suggests taking a break from using social media.

It said:

[R]egular use of social networking such as Facebook can negatively affect your emotional wellbeing and satisfaction with life.

The research examined 1,000 participants, who were divided into two groups. One cohort continued its usual Facebook usage, while another took a break from the site.

shutterstock_434200504 File photo. Source: Shutterstock/DGLimages

Wellbeing

The study found that the treatment group reported a statistically significant improvement in wellbeing after a week without Facebook.

The change was related to how much time they had previously spent on Facebook – and whether or not they were passive users and tended to envy others on the site.

The authors found envy and a “deterioration of mood” from spending too much time viewing at other people’s social media narratives, a situation compounded by “unrealistic social comparisons”.

Yet actively connecting and communicating with people on social media seems to offer a more positive experience, the study said.

Read: An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from the world’s fact-checkers (including TheJournal.ie)

Read: Text messages are on the way out – but we’re eating up huge amounts of data

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