While tons of glued-to-their-smartphone teems might argue otherwise, researchers have linked Facebook usage with a decrease in life satisfaction. The new study, published in the journal PLOS One, reveals that the more a user utilized his or her Facebook app, the less satisfaction they had in the moment. The research team was able to determine that the group selected for the study was not already demoralized before getting on Facebook, so it was Facebook itself that caused the drop in life satisfaction. This is contrary to what one might think, because social media provides a valuable tool for staying in touch and connecting with others, University of Maryland social psychologist noted.
The research team selected 82 young adults to participate in the survey and texted them a link to an online questionnaire with five short questions five times a day for two weeks. Questions included “How are you feeling right now?” “How lonely are you feeling right now?” and specific questions about how long it had been since the participant used Facebook and how long since they had interacted with friend face-to-face. Five questions does not make for an exhaustive survey, but the researchers were able to draw some basic conclusions, including the overarching conclusion that the more a person was active on Facebook, the less happy they seemed to be.
A related study from earlier this year found that using Facebook increased envy. Research conducted jointly between two German universities found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the social networking site. People who merely browsed the site and did not interact with anyone were the most impacted. Similar to the new research, scientists involved in the studies were surprised to see the negative impact of Facebook use, The Huffington Post reports.
It is somewhat easy to see why using Facebook, in particular limiting use to browsing, might cause dissatisfaction. When looking at a news feed, particularly as a young adult, many updates are populated with significant life announcements– engagements, weddings, new jobs. Because people rarely post when they are struggling, it is easy for a user to compare themselves with an incomplete version of a person and feel unfulfilled. While some might discount the importance of research regarding social media use, with over one billion users Facebook is a powerful player in the marketplace–and in many people’s lives. Understanding how Facebook impacts users is significant in promoting overall societal happiness and success.