Facebook Use Is Not Making You Happy

By: Chandra Lye
About 39 per cent of Facebook users are not as happy as their friends, one study has shown. Given there are 21 million Canadians - or nearly 60 per cent of the country - using Facebook that means over eight million Canadians are unhappy.
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The study, conducted by The Happiness Research Institute, tracked over 1,000 participants for a week. Half of the volunteers were asked to stop using Facebook for the entire week while the other half were permitted to use the social media network.

At the end of the week participants were asked to rate their level of life satisfaction. Those who had not used Facebook all week ranked the highest. They also expressed more satisfaction with their social life and better concentration.

The predominant uses of Facebookthat is, as a means to communicate, gain information about others, and as habitual pastimeare affecting our well-being negatively on several dimensions, the authors of the study wrote.

At the beginning of the week researchers did a pretest survey that showed 94 per cent of the participants used Facebook on a daily basis and, 78 per cent used it for more than 30 minutes. The volunteer participants were also measured regarding their reliance on Facebook, the level of envy they feel towards other users and if they use the social media medium actively, by posting regularly, or passively.

Participants were also divided by the intensity of their use of Facebook. Researchers said the results showed that the heavier users of the social media network received the greatest benefit from quitting Facebook. For light Facebook users there was no measurable difference.

Those who reported feeling little or no Facebook envy did not see a difference in their well-being if they quit the network but, those who reported feeling a lot of envy benefitted the most from ceasing to use Facebook.

The authors said their findings were based on average user experience.

Human beings are complex and therefore we are almost never able to identify deterministic causality within the social sciences.

They also reported that the study doesnt prove that people need to quit using Facebook but, they can also change how they use it.

The authors suggested that those who passively use Facebook often and experience envy when reading others posts could change how they use the network, which might have a positive effect on those users. Thus, passive users could post more often and, those who envy others could avoid reading those posts that produce that feeling.

The researchers did recommend that those who use Facebook almost addictively should curb their reliance on it.

The authors acknowledged some limitations in their study including the reliance upon volunteer participants, which resulted in a large female majority. The study sample consisted of 86 per cent women who had an average age of 34 and roughly 350 friends.

Researchers also conceded that the participants may have entered the study with their own bias towards the outcome. However, they indicate the risk of those who participated concluding that the study was to examine the relationship between Facebook use and well-being was small.
This article, and the products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please see your health care provider before taking any supplements or starting a new program.

Chandra Lye is a writer/journalist based in Vancouver, B.C.

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