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It's official: Facebook really does make people sad, new study finds

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by Tomas Jivanda, 15 Aug 2013News
It's official: Facebook really does make people sad, new study finds

Feelings of social isolation and depression, particularly in young adults, have long been associated with Facebook. Now a new academic study has found that long term Facebook use does indeed have a negative effect on user's well-being and happiness.

University of Michigan researchers text messaged 82 people, five times a day for two weeks, to determine how Facebook use influenced their moment-to-moment feelings and how satisfied they felt with life.   

The results found that Facebook use had a negative effect on both of these measures; the more those who took part in the study used Facebook at any given point, the worse they felt the next time they were texted.

Additionally, increased use of Facebook over the two week period had a direct relationship with a decline in overall life satisfaction levels. Participants had an average age of 19.

"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 the team.

Motivation for using the social network and number of Facebook friends were found to have no effect on the results, neither did existing depressive symptoms, feelings of loneliness or level of self-esteem.

The questionnaire measured how positive participants felt, how worried they were and how lonely they felt, as well as how much they had used Facebook and interacted with others directly since the last text was sent.

The negative impact of Facebook starkly contrasted the effect of face-to-face or phone interactions, which were found to boost well-being over time, the team said.

The results follow similar findings by two German researchers earlier this year which found that feelings of envy induced by Facebook use also led to a negative impact on people's overall satisfaction with life.

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