It's hard to argue the revolutionary advantages of Facebook. The social media giant with more than 500 million users posting, chatting, and "liking" on the daily has connected friends, families, couples, and coworkers in a way that Big Brother only could have imagined.
But as the saying goes, the virtual grass is always greener on the other side, and a new studying is showing that such in-depth interaction may be doing more damage than good.
In a new psychological study published in the Public Library of Science, researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Leuven in Belgium analyzed the subjective well-being of frequent Facebook users with mobile devices and an average age of 20. The 82 subjects were surveyed five times a day via text message with the following questions asking about their emotional status:
How do you feel right now? How worried are you right now? How lonely do you feel right now? How much have you used Facebook since the last time we asked? How much have you interacted with other people "directly" since the last time we asked?
Ultimately, researchers found that the more people used Facebook, the worse they felt afterward -- this was known as their "affective well-being." Incidentally, their "cognitive well-being," that is to say their overall satisfaction with life, also plummeted over two-week period of using Facebook.
This decline in self-esteem has been noted by similar independent studies and could be attributed to the biased, idealized depictions of users' "friends" on Facebook. Additionally, though Facebook may in theory fulfill the human need for social interaction, the study suggests it still is an inefficient substitute for direct human connection and, thus, rather than enhancing well-being, it discourages it.