Facebook’s meteoric rise in popularity suggests that it offers us something we’ve always wanted. It allows us to simultaneously keep in touch with long-lost cousin Annabelle in Baton Rouge, best friend Percival from the first grade at St. Mary’s School, as well as 491 other assorted friends, relatives, and acquaintances—all at once, instantaneously, no trips to the post office necessary. With the click of a button we can see what Percival’s cute little daughter had for breakfast this morning, or what Annabelle’s pet dog wore to last year’s Halloween party.
But like all benefits in life, Facebook comes with its psychological costs—many of them invisible. Indeed, a recent study found that heavy Facebook users experience decreases in subjective well-being over time (Kross et al., 2013). Below we review some research suggesting 7 ways that Facebook may be hurting you.
Of course, the news isn’t all that bad. Some research finds Facebook may decrease loneliness when used to keep up to date—and keep in touch with—others. Fenne Deters and Matthias Mehl (2012) randomly assigned participants to post more status updates than they typically did per week, and found that this led to increased feelings of social connectedness, and lower levels of loneliness. In the end, Facebook is probably a lot like other technological advances, such as the automobile – whether or not it hurts you or cousin Annabelle depends on where y’all drive, and how frequently y’all get behind the wheel.
Post coauthored by Jessica E. Bodford
Self-evaluation via the internet: How am I doing? Um, I'll check the internet.
How to go viral: 6 rules of contagion.
If you pursue happiness, you may find loneliness. Some sad facts about happiness.
Facebook Addiction Scale (Paddock, 2012)
Buxmann, P., & Krasnova, H. (2013, February). Envy on Facebook: A Hidden threat to users’ life satisfaction. 11th International Conference on Wirtschaftsinformatik. Leipzig, Germany: Wirtschaftsinformatik.
Broadbent, S. (2009). How the Internet enables intimacy. TED Talks. Retrieved from www.ted.com/talks/stefana_broadbent_how_the_internet_enables_intimacy.html
Chou, H. G., Edge, N. (2012). They are happier and having better lives than I am: the impact of using Facebook on perception toward others’ lives. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
Constine, J. (2012, November). Facebook explains the four ways it sorts the news feed and insists average page reach didn’t decrease. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/16/facebook-page-reach/
Deters, F. G. & Mehl, M. R. (2012). Does posting Facebook status updates increase or decrease loneliness? An Online social networking experiment. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4(5), 579-586.
Hofmann, W., Vohs, K. D., & Baumeister, R. F. (2012). What people desire, feel conflicted about, and try to resist in everyday life. Psychological Science, 23(6), 582-588.
Krafsky, K. J. & Krafsky, K. (2010). Facebook and Your Marriage. Maple Valley, WA: Turn the Tide Resource Group, LLC.
Kross, E., Verduyn, P., Demiralp, E., Park, J., Lee, D. S., Lin, N., & Ybarra, O. (2013). Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults. PloS one, 8(8), e69841.
Marshall, T. C. (2012). Facebook surveillance of former romantic partners: associations with postbreakup recovery and personal growth. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(10), 521-526.
Paddock. C. (2012, May). Facebook addiction: New psychological scale. Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245251.php
Peluchette, J., & Karl, K. (2010). Examining students' intended image on Facebook: 'What were they thinking?!'. Journal Of Education For Business, 85(1), 30-37. doi:10.1080/08832320903217606
Smith, J. (2013, April). How social media can help (or hurt) you in your job search. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/04/16/how-social-media-c...
Wood, J. V., Forest, A. L., & Machado, D. (2014, February). Social networking is a double-edged sword: Low self-esteem and self-disclosure on Facebook. Oral presentation delivered at the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Austin, TX: The Society for Personality and Social Psychology.