STUDY: Envy of Friends, Family Can Make Facebook Use Depressing

By David Cohen Comment

DepressedManLaptopAll of these studies suggesting that Facebook use causes depression, are, well, depressing.

The latest comes from University of Houston researcher Mai-Ly Steers, who found after conducting two separate studies that some Facebook users find themselves comparing their lives with the activities and accomplishments of their friends and family on the social network.

The first study found an association between time spent on Facebook and depressive symptoms for both genders, while the second concluded that the relationship between the amount of time spent on the social network and depressive symptoms was mediated by social comparisons on Facebook.

Steers said in a release announcing her findings:

Although social comparison processes have been examined at length in traditional contexts, the literature is only beginning to explore social comparisons in online social networking settings.

It doesn’t mean Facebook causes depression, but that depressed feelings and lots of time on Facebook and comparing oneself to others tend to go hand-in-hand.

One danger is that Facebook often gives us information about our friends that we are not normally privy to, which gives us even more opportunities to socially compare. You can’t really control the impulse to compare because you never know what your friends are going to post. In addition, most of our Facebook friends tend to post about the good things that occur in their lives, while leaving out the bad. If we’re comparing ourselves to our friends’ “highlight reels,” this may lead us to think their lives are better than they actually are and, conversely, make us feel worse about our own lives.

Readers: Feeling depressed?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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