What happened when 500 Facebook users gave it up for one week

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December 2, 2016 by Paul Dughi

Modern meeting with laptops

You have to wonder what it’s like to work at place called “The Happiness Research Institute.”  It’s an independent think task focused on well-being, quality of life, and… well… happiness.  The research what makes people happy.

In this case, they found 1095 people  and had half of them stop using Facebook for one week.  The other half served as a control group.  Both groups were regular Facebook users.  94% visited daily.   78% spent 30 minutes or more on the site.

If you’ve experienced that feeling scrolling through the FB feed and thinking, wow, my friends have amazing lives, you’re not alone. The Institute (sorry, I just can’t keep calling them the Happiness Research Institute) found that’s a real thing for a lot of FB users.

happy

But does that feeling add up to something significant?  By forcing people to stay off Facebook for just one week, the Institute showed marked results.

What did they find?

After just one week without Facebook, the group that abstained reported a significantly higher level of life satisfaction.

happy-2

Those without Facebook reports an increase in social activity (you know, actual social activity) and an increased satisfaction with their social life in general.  They found is easier to concentrate.  Less stressed.

Those social comparisons we talked about?  People on Facebook are 39% more likely to feel less happy than their friends.

View The Facebook Experiment (1) for more results.

So staying off of Facebook, for even just a week can make us happier. 

The flip side may be true as well, especially in teens and young adults.  For teens, the more social media they consume, the more likely they are to be depressed according to two studies.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has released research findings that show the more young adults spend on line with social media, the more likely they are to suffer from depression.  The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, so it’s not to be taken lightly.

“Because social media has become such an integrated component of human interaction, it is important for clinicians interacting with young adults to recognize the balance to be struck in encouraging potential positive use, while redirecting from problematic use. ” — Brian Primack, Director, Center for Research on Media & Technology

Both those who spent a lot of time with social media, and those that checked in on social media frequently, showed the effects. More than 25% of those in the group showed high indicators of depression. Those who checked their social media accounts most frequently had 2.7 times the likelihood of depression of those that didn’t.

“It may be that people who already are depressed are turning to social media to fill a void,” — Researcher Lui yi Lin

Lin cites that feeling that all your friends are having a great life and yours, well, maybe no so much. It can create feelings of envy. Other contributing factors can be a feeling of wasting time which can negatively impact your moods, and fueling an “internet addiction.”

frustration

I know I should be reading a book instead… but I just… can’t stop… checking Facebook

recent study by Carnegie Mellon says that more than a third of Facebook posts express sad or negative feelings and that brought even more attention than other posts. Negative emotions got, on average, about twice the comments. Facebook users also received more private messages after sharing negative feelings. Maybe just people checking to make sure you’re OK?

“Teens tended to be more negative. That’s consistent with what we know about teens and cognitive development.” Moira Burke, Carnegie Mellon

 

 

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