Is Facebook Depressing? Study Suggests That World’s Most Popular Social Network Makes Users Sad [REPORT]

By Philip Ross on August 15, 2013 4:07 PM EDT

facebook depressing
Facebook is depressing, say scientists in the U.S. (Photo: Flickr/tonibirrer)

Is Facebook depressing? Anyone who has ever flipped enviously through a friend's photo album titled something like "Best Vacation Ever," "Happy Hamptons," or the more direct "Belize 2013," will unequivocally answer yes. Now, there's some scientific authority on the subject. Researchers in the U.S. have quantified exactly how the world's most popular social network really makes us feel, and they agree: Facebook is depressing. Like, really, depressing.

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After studying whether or not frequent Facebook use negatively impacted people's well-being, researchers from the University of Michigan found that the more a person used the site, the more bummed out he or she became. The conclusion that Facebook is depressing goes against the site's core mission of fostering connections; but, researchers say it's the social network's anti-social aspect that's got people feeling down in the dumps.

"Over a billion people belong to Facebook, and over half of them log in every day," University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the study, noted in the study. "On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. But rather than enhancing well-being, our findings demonstrate that interacting with Facebook may have the opposite result for young adults."

Kross and his team studied the moods of 82 participants, 53 of whom are female, and measured their levels of satisfaction with life at the start and end of the two-week experiment. "The more participants used Facebook, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time," the study, published in the online journal PLOS One, suggests.

Researchers did note that another possible explanation for participants' sour moods when clicking around Facebook is that people use social network's when they feel bad. When we're bored or lonely, people may be more likely to hop on the computer to see what their friends are up to.  

This isn't the first time Facebook's happy meter has been deemed out of whack. Earlier this year, a study surfaced that said Facebook users were more likely to report having negative feelings like frustration and envy after spending time online. Medical Daily reports that a study from Germany linked browsing other people's photos, wall posts and their newsfeeds with feelings of malaise.

Here's an interesting excerpt from Buzzfeed on the subject of Facebook and depression:

As Alexis Madrigal explains in an excellent post about "The Machine Zone," it's easy for Facebook users, similar to those who play slot machines, to be unwittingly lulled into a time-distorting rhythm by repetitive and sometimes rewarding tasks - like looking at an endless stream of your friends' photos. This behavior can mimic the deleterious effects of gambling and even addiction. And as much as this kind of problem stems from Facebook's savvy design and engineering, which is geared to keep users on the site, it's also a natural effect of how we're wired.

So whether you're a chronic Facebook-er, or just a Facebook dabbler, it may behoove you to trim your online social network "addiction" down a bit.

Are you in the "Facebook is depressing" camp, or not? Does more time on Facebook make people sadder? Let us know your thoughts below.

Read more from iScience Times:

Dallas 911 Operator Fired For Racist Facebook Post: What Did April Sims Say To Deserve Termination? [PHOTO]

Baby Left With Note In Car; Mom Shops While Tot Naps And Causes Facebook Outrage

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