We all know that social media has changed the way we interact with other people. In many cases, these changes are positive: for one thing, we don’t even have to get dressed before saying hello to our friends and acquaintances in the morning! On a more serious note, social media helps us meet people all over the globe and make new social and business connections. I’ve benefited a lot from this kind of networking.
Yet social media problems like internet addiction and low self-esteem are on the rise. A new study summarized in the Harvard Business Review appears to confirm that Facebook use (the study remains focused on this particular social media outlet) leads to a decline in personal well-being. Social media can’t substitute for face to face interactions in the real world. I’ll remember that as I go schedule this post on Twitter and Facebook . . .
Here are some findings from the study:
Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year.
Overall our results suggests that well-being declines are also matter of quantity of use rather than only quality of use. If this is the case, our results contrast with previous research arguing that the quantity of social media interaction is irrelevant, and that only the quality of those interactions matter.
While screen time in general can be problematic, the tricky thing about social media is that while we are using it, we get the impression that we are engaging in meaningful social interaction. Our results suggest that the nature and quality of this sort of connection is no substitute for the real world interaction we need for a healthy life.
Besides all this, we should remember that more social media time leads to less writing time . . . right?