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Students' Alcohol Use And Anxiety Levels Can Predict Facebook Dependence, Study Shows

Apr 10, 2013 01:44 PM EDT
Facebook User

(Photo : Reuters)

College freshmen who reported higher levels of alcohol use and anxiety were found to be more emotionally connected to the content on Facebook than their peers, according to a new study published in the Journal of Computers in Human Behavior.

The researchers found that anxiety and alcohol use were significant predictors of emotional connectedness to the social networking site.

A survey of 225 freshmen collected data on students' perceived levels of loneliness, anxiousness, alcohol use and marijuana use. The researchers also assessed the students' Facebook use and their perceived emotional connectedness to the site.

Russel Clayton, now a doctoral student at University of Missouri School of Journalism, and colleagues report that students with higher levels of lonlines and anxiousness rely on Facebook as a way to emotionally connect with others.

"People who perceive themselves to be anxious are more likely to want to meet and connect with people online, as opposed to a more social, public setting," Clayton said in a statement.

"Also, when people who are emotionally connected to Facebook view pictures and statuses of their Facebook friends using alcohol, they are more motivated to engage in similar online behaviors in order to fit in socially."

Clayton said that since alcohol use is considered normative, or socially acceptable, among college students that increased alcohol use may result in increased emotional connectedness to Facebook.

Clayton said people who engage in marijuana use are less likely to be emotionally connected to Facebook, likely because the activity is not normative and people generally do not post pictures or status updates about using the drug on Facebook.

With more than a billion users, the giant social networking site has been associated with a range of emotions felt by its users.

A study published in January found that Facebook posts can trigger envy and feelings of misery or loneliness in some users.

"We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry," one of the researchers said in an interview with Reuters.

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