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Study: Facebook Is Making You Unhappy

Apr 13, 2017 01:53 PM EDT
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A new and rigorous study conducted by Holly B. Shakya of University of California San Diego and Nicholas A. Christakis of Yale University found that engaging in Facebook can have dismal effects on overall health.
(Photo : Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Facebook has become a major part of many users' lives. Last year, the company revealed that users spent an average of 50 minutes on their Facebook, Instagram and Messenger applications every day.

While it doesn't seem like a huge amount of time, it's a significant chunk of a person's waking hours, considering most people sleep for about eight hours a day. The question now is whether Facebook interactions have a positive or negative effect on its users.

A new and rigorous study conducted by Holly B. Shakya from the University of California San Diego and Nicholas A. Christakis from Yale University tackled this subject matter. They concluded that engaging in Facebook can have dismal effects on a person's overall health.

According to an official report from Harvard Business Review, this study observed how a person's well-being changed over time in association with Facebook use. The researchers made use of three waves of data in a period of over two years from 5,208 adults along with different measures of Facebook usage directly pulled from the subjects' Facebook accounts.

Measures of well-being included life satisfaction, body-mass index (BMI), self-reported mental health and self-reported physical health, while measures of Facebook use included liking friends' posts, creating own posts and clicking on links. The study also measured the subjects' real-world social interactions.

"Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being," the researchers noted in the report. "These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year."

The team added that liking others' content and clicking links led to a reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health and life satisfaction. They also noted that the decline in well-being is more of a matter of quantity of Facebook use rather than just the quality of use.

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