Facebook use associated with a reduced health and happiness, study finds

You can be more connected with the world than ever, but if it’s going to feel closer, it’s a different story. According to a new study from the University of California, San Diego, and Yale University, Facebook can be used in connection with our health and happiness, and not in a positive way. And given the fact that the social network has a customer base of approximately 2 billion people, that is a rather alarming find.

The study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggests that those who use Facebook more often are less satisfied with their lives and are less healthy than those who are more judicious in the number of times that they log on. As the Wall Street Journal noted, “To baldly: the more you want, the worse you feel.”

UCSD is Holly Shakya, an assistant professor of public health, and Nicholas Christakis, the director of Human Nature Lab at Yale University, tracked the mental health and social interactions, from 5.208 study participants in the course of two years. The study subjects agreed to respond to the national surveys put forward by Gallup between 2013 and 2015 (which helped researchers monitor their health, emotions and social life), and, further, to talk with researchers about their health, social life, and Facebook use.

Ultimately, the team found that Facebook use was “closely linked to a deterioration of the social, physical and psychological health.” In fact, for each statistical leap above the average in the “liking” of a post, clicking a link, or updating your own status, the study found a 5 to 8 percent increase in the chance that the user would report problems of mental health.

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This is not the first or only study to suggest that such correlation. Other research has shown that the increase of the use of social media is often accompanied by an increase of feelings of isolation, fear and FOMO (fear to miss).

Of course, there may be many confounding variables that these studies findings, and we may not be able to ever unilaterally prove that Facebook is “good” or “bad” for the psyche. But regardless, Christakis noted, What the people really need is real friendship and real interaction.

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