According to Statista, Facebook currently has more than 2 billion active monthly users, which makes it the most popular social network by a large margin. The much-discussed Cambridge Analytica scandal may have damaged Facebook’s reputation, as well as its shares — which have, as Timenoted, posted their steepest drop since 2015 — but how does Facebook affect our mental health and well-being?
Eric Vanman and Rosemary Baker from the University of Queensland, and Stephanie Tobin from the Australian Catholic University have attempted to answer this question. In a study recently published in the Journal of Social Psychology, titled “The Burden of Online Friends,” the authors explore the effects of giving up Facebook on stress and well-being.
For the experiment, Vanman, Baker and Tobin recruited 138 active Facebook users. Participants were then separated into two groups, which the authors have decided to refer to as “Facebook Normal” and “No Facebook.” Sixty participants were instructed to quit Facebook for five days, and 78 of them were instructed to continue using it as normal. Each individual was surveyed prior and after the experiment. Vanman and his colleagues measured salivary cortisol, perceived stress, and well-being, and asked each participant a series of questions regarding mood, loneliness, and life satisfaction.
The researchers concluded the following.