Feeling Blue? Take a Break from Facebook

A new study shows that regular use of social networking sites such as Facebook can negatively affect your emotional well-being and satisfaction with life.

But you don’t have to quit Facebook altogether, according to researchers. Changing your social networking behavior and taking an occasional break from Facebook may lift your spirits, according to the study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

In the article, Dr. Morten Tromholt of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark describes an experiment in which he gave more than 1,000 participants a pretest and then randomly assigned them to one of two conditions: Continue using Facebook as usual or stop using Facebook for a week.

He reports on the negative effects of Facebook use on overall well-being, based on life satisfaction and emotions.

After one week without Facebook, the treatment group showed statistically significant improvement in well-being, with gains varying depending on the amount of time they previously spent on Facebook and whether they were passive users and tended to envy others on Facebook, according to the study’s findings.

“Confirming previous research, this study found that ‘lurking’ on Facebook may cause negative emotions. However, on the bright side, as previous studies have shown, actively connecting with close friends, whether in real life or on Facebook, may actually increase one’s sense of well-being,” said Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, of the Interactive Media Institute in San Diego, California, and editor-in-chief of the journal.

Source: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.