Anxiety from Facebook?

Everybody loves Facebook, right?

Then I wonder why a Google search for “want to quit using Facebook” gets 281 million search results. Compare that to “want to quit smoking” which gets a mere 30 million hits.

Facebook and social media have changed the way people interact and have relationships with one another – no doubt about it.

We all know the benefits of Facebook for keeping in touch, feeling connected to others, sharing information.

facebooklike  However, my clients also tell me about lots of stress with Facebook:

→ Feeling not good enough, compared to the Facebook Faces that others put on

→ Feeling everyone else has more fun, has no problems, has more friends, etc.

→ Relationship conflicts/misunderstandings over Facebook posts

→ Trust issues arising about a partner’s use of Facebook or selection of Friends

→ Feeling even more time pressured, because Facebook chews up a lot of time

→ Feeling uncomfortable or anxious if they’re NOT able to check Facebook throughout the day (a symptom of addiction)

→ Staying up late on Facebook instead of getting needed sleep (another symptom)

What Does the Research say?

Mixed results:  Some studies show Facebook helps people feel connected to other people and can increase a sense of well-being.

Studies also show Facebook can affect your mood – in either direction!  Researchers found that for every negative post, there was an extra 1.29 negative posts than normal in that person’s social network. Every upbeat post caused an extra 1.75 positive posts in the social network.

Holistic Anxiety therapy with Di Philippi, MA, LPC

I was surprised to find plenty of research showing thatFacebook can increase stress, increase anxiety and negatively affect a person’s sense of self…

1.  Over half of the respondents of one study felt uneasy when they were unable to access their social media, feeling a constant impulse to check for updates, increasing stress and anxiety.

2.  Additionally, two-thirds had difficulty sleeping due to anxiety and other negative emotions after they had used social media sites.

3.  The constant updating of Facebook led many respondents to frequently compare themselves to others, leading to feelings of inadequacy and increasing anxiety.

4.  Another study showed Facebook can increase social anxiety when a person is faced with actual in-person meetings.

5.  Researchers studied 82 young, frequent Facebook users and found that when the participants increased their Facebook use, their state of well-being declined. Those who increased the amount of time they spent with people face-to-face had an increased sense of well-being.

This is just a sampling of studies on negative effects of social media sites on users. On the flip side, other studies have shown Facebook to have positive effects. See this New Yorker article for more.

What is Right for You?

You are not alone if you have found Facebook to cause stress, anxiety, or take up too much time.

Are you feeling pressure from Facebook, or feeling over-connected to constant checking? You may want to check out the 99 Days of Freedom from Facebook online study on how life without Facebook impacts user happiness.  This is a study you can participate in.

I think that (as with most things in life!) finding the right balance is key. Being aware of the positive and negative effects of social media helps you make very conscious choices about what’s right for you.