A new UK study finds that while it may appear impressive to have a large number of friends on Facebook, the additional linkages may very well add stress.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh Business School found that the more groups of people in someone’s Facebook friends, the greater the potential to cause transgressions or ill feelings.
In particular, adding employers or parents resulted in the greatest increase in anxiety.
Experts say that stress arises when a user presents a version of themself on Facebook that is unacceptable to some of their online “friends” such as posts displaying swearing, recklessness, drinking and smoking.
This has been an increasing problem as older people join sites of their children or those from a younger generation. Researchers say problems arise as the expectation of older “friends” may be very different from those of younger users.
Admittedly, the times are changing for social networking as 55 percent of parents now follow their children on Facebook. Likewise, more than half of employers claim not to have hired someone based on their Facebook page.
Researchers found that on average people are Facebook friends with seven different social circles. The most common group was friends known offline (97 percent added them as friends online), followed by extended family (81 percent), siblings (80 percent), friends of friends (69 percent), and colleagues (65 percent).
The report also discovered that more people are Facebook friends with their former partners than with their current relationship partner. Only 56 percent of users were friends with their boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse online, compared with 64 per cent of exes.
For the study, investigators surveyed more than 300 people, most of them students with an average age of 21, about their Facebook accounts.
Researchers also discovered that only one-third use the listing privacy setting on their Facebook profile, which can be used to control the information seen by different types of friends.
Ben Marder, author of the report, said: “Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance, drink and flirt. But now with your Mum, Dad and boss there, the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines.”
Source: University of Edinburgh