Is Facebook making you sad?

August 14, 2013 4:22:53 PM PDT
There's no doubt Facebook "connects you with friends and the world," but now a new study says it may also be making you unhappy.

University of Michigan researchers tracked the moods of 82 young adults through text surveys (5 times a day for 2 weeks) They found the more people use Facebook, the worse they feel and the less satisfied they become with their lives.

"You look at how nicely other people's lives are going, you feel bad about yourself. That's one idea. Maybe it's that you're spending less time interacting with other people in daily life directly," said Ethan Kross, Ph.D., author of the study from the University of Michigan.

The new study is small, but Kross, a psychologist, says it raises important new questions.

"I think it would be naïve to think this technology only influences people in one direction," he said.

"The grass isn't always greener on the other side, so you can't always be gullible and believe everything you read on there," Esmerelda Amaya said.

Amaya uses Facebook to keep up with family and friends, but her 18 year old daughter Marlene stopped using it. She says there's too much drama.

"They all either want to look cool on Facebook, but in real life they're way different," Marlene said.

Eyewitness News asked you on Facebook about this study and the comments poured in.

Ayisha wrote it makes her motivated. "I use my Facebook to drive positive change in my community," she wrote.

Deborah wrote, "I hate seeing the sad stories? and I'd admit I may be a little envious if someone posts a pic on vacation in Bermuda or Hawaii,"

"You have to know what kind of person you are and be confident in yourself, and if you have friends that are doing better than yourself, be ok with that," Facebook user Brant Bethea said.

The study found the more people spend interacting face to face or on talking on the phone, the better they felt. It's a reminder not to let digital interaction replace the real thing.

Facebook responded with a statement:

"In previous research between Moira Burke on our data science team with Bob Kraut at Carnegie Mellon University, we've found that using Facebook to interact with your friends--posting on each others' walls, sending messages, commenting on photos?is associated with improvements in well-being. Talking with friends on Facebook is linked to increases in social capital [1], and in particular, talking with close friends is connected to improvements in social support and stress [2]. On the other hand, we don't see these benefits from interactions with acquaintances, or from simply reading news on the site.

1. Burke, M., Kraut, R., and Marlow, C. (2011). Social capital on Facebook: Differentiating uses and users. ACM CHI 2011: Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

2. Burke, M., Kraut, R., and Marlow, C. (2013). Using Facebook after Losing a Job: Differential Benefits of Strong and Weak Ties. ACM CSCW 2013: Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work."