Studies: More time on Facebook … and it’s not good for you.

“Negatively associated with overall well-being … particularly mental health”.

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Let’s connect a couple of recently reported studies …

First, the BLS periodically reports how Americans spend their leisure time.

According to the NYT, channeling the most recent BLS report:

The average time that users spend on Facebook is nearing an hour.

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Putting that hour of Facebook in perspective:

That’s more than any other leisure activity surveyed … with the exception of watching television programs and movies (an average per day of 2.8 hours).

It’s more time than people spend reading (19 minutes); participating in sports or exercise (17 minutes); or social events (four minutes).

It’s almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking (1.07 hours). NYT

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And, a recent study published by the Harvard Business Review indicates that all that Facebook time is unhealthy.

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The study:

Analyzed “three waves of data from 5,208 adults from a national longitudinal panel maintained by the Gallup organization, coupled with several different measures of Facebook usage, to see how well-being changed over time in association with Facebook use.”

The measures of well-being included life satisfaction, self-reported mental health, self-reported physical health, and body-mass index (BMI).

The measures of Facebook use included liking others’ posts, creating one’s own posts, and clicking on links

Prior research has established that “the use of social media may detract from face-to-face relationships, reduce investment in meaningful activities, increase sedentary behavior by encouraging more screen time, lead to internet addiction, and erode self-esteem through unfavorable social comparison.”

This study confirmed “that the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being” with “results particularly strong for mental health.

Further, the study concludes that “well-being declines are also matter of quantity of use rather than only quality of use”, contrasting with “previous research arguing that the quantity of social media interaction is irrelevant, and that only the quality of those interactions matter.”

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What’s going on?

According to the researchers:

The tricky thing about social media is that while we are using it, we get the impression that we are engaging in meaningful social interaction.

Our results suggest that the nature and quality of this sort of connection is no substitute for the real world interaction we need for a healthy life.

Exposure to the carefully curated images from others’ lives leads to negative self-comparison, and the sheer quantity of social media interaction may detract from more meaningful real-life experiences.

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