Checking out the Bali vacation photos your friend posted on his Facebook account may leave you feeling unhappy – very unhappy. A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that Facebook use causes depression. It also suggests that the more someone logs in, the more depressed he or she becomes.
The very popular social media platform has more than a billion members – half of whom log in daily.
“On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it,” said experts from the University of Michigan.
The study involved 82 individuals, who were surveyed about their emotional state, Facebook usage and their non-virtual interactions (face-to-face or by phone) with other people every day.
Apart from the depression link, the study found that increased use of Facebook also affected the participants’ well-being, to the extent of making them feel less satisfied with their lives. This finding puts the effects of using Facebook in sharp contrast to that which other solitary activities such as reading and jogging bring about.
The researchers explained the drop in life satisfaction levels triggered by Facebook: “… people’s perceptions of social isolation (i.e. how lonely they feel) are a more powerful determinant of well-being than objective social isolation.”
The emotions triggered by seeing Facebook photos of your friends partying, while you’re stuck at your computer, are more damaging than you think they are.