Researchers at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen have claimed that using social media sites, particularly Facebook leads to depression and people who choose to abandon it experience a significantly higher level of life satisfaction compared to those who do not.
For the study, researchers conducted an experiment on 1095 people in Denmark and they divided them into two groups:
- The Control Group, who continue to use Facebook as usual.
- The Treatment Group, whom researchers made to abandon using Facebook for one week.
After a week of analysis, researchers found that the participants from The Treatment Group, who had not been on Facebook, said they were more satisfied with their lives with 88 percent of them describing themselves as “happy” compared to 81 percent from The Control Group.
Researchers also reported that 84 percent of the participants from The Treatment Group said they appreciated their lives compared with 75 percent in the other group, and only 12 percent described themselves as dissatisfied, compared with 20 percent among the participants from the Control Group, who continued using Facebook.
Not only were the participants from The Treatment Group satisfied with their lives abandoning Facebook, they also reported having a richer real-world social activity and were significantly less angry and lonely than the participants from The Control Group.
“We focused on Facebook because it is the social media that most people use across age groups,” said Meik Wiking, CEO of Happiness Research Institute, in a statement at AFP.
Previous study at University of Innsbruck also claimed that using Facebook causes depression, but there were only 263 participants. Well, regardless of the number of participants, the experiment yielded some interesting results – the group who spent time on Facebook had a lower mood compared to those who did not.
“Facebook distorts our perception of reality and of what other people’s lives really look like. We take in to account how we’re doing in life through comparisons to everyone else, and since most people only post positive things on Facebook, that gives us a very biased perception of reality,” Wiking also told The Local.
Facebook does really affect us in almost every way and I do not think anyone can quit it regardless of their experience. It is said that Facebook users are 39 percent more likely to feel less happy than non-user.
[Hat Tip: AFP, Happiness Research Institute: The Facebook Experiment – Does Social Media Affect The Quality Of Our Lives? (PDF) | Image: Photo: Iris/Scanpix via The Local]
Hey sparkonit! I think this post raises good points – but feel a little skeptical of a study that only assesses one week – it takes 21 days to break a typical habit and then when there are social connections to behaviors it could takes weeks and months to adjust to a change – so to say they were depressed or happier just does not seem like the full picture. I have tasted from social media and it takes weeks to adjust – and in my humble opinion we cannot make clams over what they felt after a week – further – there are always limitations with self report data and then sample size does matter for some findings – but as always – good stuff brought up here for some discussion – have a good day –
I’ve resisted being on Facebook even though everyone tells me authors MUST be on it. There is just so much noisy trivia out there in our world already without our minds being cluttered up with someone’s baby photos or their latest meal. Incidentally, have you seen that article where someone runs a series of questions through her mind to decide which of her Fbk “friends” are really friends (would they drive me to the airport? Lend me money? Mind my kids at short notice? Etc) and decided she only had 1 friend.
I think Facebook also leads to the breakdown of human communication/contact which can also cause depression. It is so impersonal.
I can attest to the truth of this study’s finding – had to be on Facebook for a writing gig I had with a prayer/faith site a few years ago, and posted positive affirmations, etc. to promote the site. What surprised me was the negativity, even from people saying they’re all about being positive (i.e., people of faith). Some of their comments concerning undocumented immigrants were so mean-spirited that I left Facebook. I felt better right away!
Yeah, you can never expect people to be as good as you. Beware of hypocrites. 😛
Thanks, Nel; I agree about Twitter.
Sparkonit: You’ve given me something to think about. I can see how ppl might accept the shields friends will put up as their lives; it’s easy to forget the other 23 hours of the day they are not doing the things they post. But I’ve got Candy Crush through it and it’s a good way to maintain connections without having to thoroughly socialize(being the introvert that I am), although the game does taste bitterly addictive at times, but the scenery changes, better than rerun commercials during a football game.
I don’t think games will ever have a bad influence on our real-world social activities although they can be addicting. I would choose games over social medias. Thanks for stopping by, Kendra. 🙂
I really agree with this one…in fact it has been a while since I stopped using FB and only go to it if I need to send anyone a certain message because I can’t get hold of them in the real world. I stopped when I saw that more people were becoming fake social media versions of themselves that you hardly recognize the real them in their posts and profiles and I think that is very sad and even pathetic at times.
I check Twitter more because I can filter what I see and only check those which help me become better and provide me more nourishing information.
Thanks for sharing the more scientific-proven side of it.
Same here and agree to most of it and about those annoying people. I use both Twitter and Facebook just to share the articles I posted on Sparkonit. Believe me, I have never even posted my own picture anywhere on the internet. Anyways, I am glad that you liked it. 🙂