“If Facebook were a country, its population would rival the single most populous country on Earth,” says Washington Post.
According to Facebook’s 2014 Q3 earnings report, more than 1.35 billion people use the social networking site to connect with new and old friends. However, in a new study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, spending a lot of time on Facebook can lead to depressive symptoms.
According to University of Houston researcher Mai-Ly Steers, using Facebook doesn’t necessarily cause depression, but rather depressed feelings and lots of time spent on Facebook go hand-in-hand.
Researchers conducted two studies with the latter finding a relationships between the amount of time spent on Facebook and depressive symptoms.
Why would using Facebook cause depressive symptoms?
According to Steers, “Facebook often gives us information about our friends that we are not normally privy to, which gives us even more opportunities to socially compare.” Socially comparing lives can lead us to think your friends’ lives may be better or worse than your own, which may compound feelings of loneliness and/or isolation.
This new study demonstrates that the act of socially comparing oneself to others is related to long-term depressive symptoms and destructive emotions.
Mai-Ly N. Steers, Robert E. Wickham, Linda K. Acitelli. Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms.Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2014; 33 (8): 701 DOI:10.1521/jscp.2014.33.8.701