WASHINGTON – People who use Facebook may feel more connected, but less happy.
A study of young adults found that the more people used Facebook, the worse they subsequently felt.
“On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection,” said University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross. “But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result — it undermines it.”
The researchers recruited 82 young adults who had smartphones and Facebook accounts, and assessed their subjective well-being by texting them at random times five times a day for two weeks.
The researchers said the study, published in the scientific journal PLoS, was believed to be the first measuring Facebook’s impact on happiness and life satisfaction.
“This is a result of critical importance because it goes to the very heart of the influence that social networks may have on people’s lives,” said University of Michigan cognitive neuroscientist John Jonides.
The researchers tracked the study group by asking them how they felt, whether they were worried or lonely, how much they used Facebook and how much they interacted “directly” with people.
“The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt the next time we text-messaged them,” the researchers wrote. “The more they used Facebook over two weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time.” In contrast, personal interactions led people to feel better over time, they noted.