Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us? Yes, Sometimes

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Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) scientists have looked into whether spending time on social media can be bad for some people. That answer is “yes”, and the experts Facebook called on to look at the problem barely qualified it.

David Ginsberg, Director of Research, and Moira Burke, Research Scientist at Facebook, wrote:

In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward. In one experiment, University of Michigan students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than students assigned to post or talk to friends on Facebook. A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average in a survey.

These comments was bracketed by a number of positive effects, which included “actively interacting with people”,  actively using Facebook News Feeds, “suicide prevention”, and “helping students under stress”. The blog post by Ginsberg and Burke is actually very balanced given that they are Facebook employees.

Since Facebook has 2.07 billion monthly active users, the Facebook question and its answers are impossible to entirely confirm or deny. How people use the world’s largest social media by age, country, religion, or other distinction won’t ever be known. The pool of users is too vast.

The Facebook research comments are based on data which primarily derives from U.S. research and its conclusions. This is understandable. The most visible criticism of Facebook and its users comes from people and experts in America, such as Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell, UC San Diego and Yale, and UC Berkeley.

So, the Facebook answers to the question “Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?” scratch the surface, but no much more.