Want To Get Happy? A New Study Says Get Off Facebook

By Steve Anderson August 15, 2013

When it comes to Facebook, it's not hard to see where a lot of gain could be had. Facebook has proven valuable as a communications system, as a marketing tool, as a party planner and as several other things. But what a study from the University of Michigan discovered was something Facebook was not, specifically, a way to make people happy.

The University of Michigan study, conducted by psychologist Oscar Ybarra and several others, took 82 undergrads who live near the campus and hit said undergrads with a survey sent via a set of text messages. The median age of the students, reportedly, was 19, and the researchers sent out the survey questions in rapid-fire fashion, every few hours, every day over the course of two weeks total. The responses to the messages revealed that, as the students spent more time on Facebook, said students were more dissatisfied with their lives in general, and also were less energetic. Ybarra elaborated, saying “The more people reported using Facebook, the more negative they were feeling following Facebook use.”

This study contradicts an earlier study, which showed that Facebook use tended to create a sense of trust and well-being. However, the study in question really only spotted the increase in well-being when users were in contact with friends or loved ones, which does somewhat change the overall perspective. Other researchers at the University of Michigan noted an unusual point around which the new study was created: that Facebook is a solitary activity. Said researcher, Nicole Ellison, instead posits that Facebook time is actually a social activity.

It's also worth noting that the sample size on the University of Michigan study was just 82 students who lived near the campus, so trying to apply the results of same across a body of people like humanity in general may be a bit of a tall order. Some greater geographic diversity, greater age diversity, and greater background diversity really may have been in order on this one. Still, there's something of truth in this, as Facebook allows users to easily compare their lives to others. The sight of some doing well when others are not can easily trigger feelings of dissatisfaction in life. That, and again, the makeup of the survey participants may have something to do with it; college students feeling dissatisfied with life are possibly more actively working to change that, so the feelings may have been temporary.

So while this study may not be conclusively able to draw a link between Facebook and unhappiness, it may be worth considering how Facebook impacts each of our feelings and outlook on life. If Facebook is making people unhappy, then a quick way to fix that is to close the Facebook window and carry on from there.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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