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More Facebook friends means more stress - report

The more people you’re friends with, the more chance there is of offending someone…

THE MORE FACEBOOK friends you have, the more likely you are to be stressed, according to a new report.

While those with a wide circle of online friends tend to feel more popular, they also feel more stress as they attempt not to cause offence to anyone – as the potential for doing so grows, the study from the University of Edinburgh Business School has found.

Stress arises when a user presents a version of themself on Facebook that is unacceptable to some of their online ‘friends’, such as posts displaying behaviour such as swearing, recklessness, drinking and smoking, according to researchers.

The greatest increase in anxiety was linked to adding parents or employers as friends.

The report surveyed more than 300 people on Facebook, mostly students, with an average age of 21. The results suggest that as older people join the site, anxiety grows amongst younger users.

“Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance, drink and flirt. But now with your Mum, Dad and boss there the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines,” said Ben Marder, author of the report and early career fellow in marketing at the Business School.

Social ‘circles’

Now, 55 per cent of parents follow their children on Facebook – while more than half of employers claim not to have hired someone based on their Facebook page.

Researchers found that on average people are Facebook friends with seven different ‘social circles’. The most common group was friends known offline (97 per cent added them as friends online), followed by extended family (81 per cent), siblings (80 per cent), friends of friends (69 per cent), and colleagues (65 per cent).

The study also found that a higher number of people are Facebook friends with their former partners than with their current relationship partner. Only 56 per cent of users were friends with their boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse online, compared with 64 per cent of exes. (No – we can’t figure that one out either.)

Just one third say they the listing privacy setting on their Facebook profile to control the information seen by different types of friends.

Read: 10 viral marketing Facebook posts that got most ‘likes’

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