STUDY: Social Media Helps Women Cope (But Not Men)

Men complaining about their significant others “always trolling Facebook” should pour themselves a nice glass of shut the hell up.

The Battle of the Social Networks rages on…and members of both (human) genders are actively looking for ways to help each other learn to chill out before it gets to be overwhelming.

From stereotypical needs such as shopping and “working on the car” to more enlightened pursuits like pilates and obsessive football fandom, the quest for release and relief is a constant one. And now, thanks to this survey by Pew Research, we know that men complaining about their significant others “always trolling Facebook” should pour themselves a nice glass of shut the hell up.

Apparently the practice can be cathartic — like a nap on the couch filled with dreams of high school reunions, or a couple of hours spent totally crushing it on Farmville.

Consider the following scenario: it’s been a tough day at work for her. She vents about the juvenile girl in the rear cube, the overly demanding boss, and that one client with the penciled-in eyebrows.

While you break open a cold one, she retreats to Pinterest on her iPad.

These aren’t just antiquated gender stereotypes: the study says they’re very real…and it’s a chemical thing.

Pew Research’s latest report focused on the Perceived Stress Scale, and it found that frequent engagement with digital services wasn’t “directly correlated to increased stress.” Women who use social media heavily even recorded lower stress levels. From Lee Rainie, the director of Internet, science, and technology research at Pew:

“We began to work fully expecting that the conventional wisdom was right, that these technologies add to stress. So it was a real shock when [we] first looked at the data and … there was no association between technology use, especially heavy technology use, and stress.”

happinessOther findings about women and social media included the following:

  • A woman who uses Twitter several times per day, sends or receives 25 emails per day, and shares two digital pictures through her mobile phone per day, scores 21% lower on our stress measure than a woman who does not use these technologies at all.
  • A woman with an average size network of Facebook friends is aware of 13% more stressful events in the lives of her closest social ties, compared with an equivalent woman who does not use Facebook.
  • A typical male Facebook user who comments regularly on others’ posts is aware of 8% more stressful events amongst his closest social ties. A man with an average size network of Facebook friends is aware of 6% more major events in the lives of his acquaintances, compared with an equivalent male who does not use Facebook.

Next time the boss rushes into your office or cube, sees you scrolling through a social media platform, and smugly asks, “Just what do you think you’re doing?” you can leave the screen up, direct your browser to this piece of invaluable research, and say, “Just chillin’.”