SEP 26, 2016 05:15 AM PDT

Facebook and Happiness

There have been dozens of studies done on the impact of social media on a user’s emotional state. Most are not very positive, their results suggesting that social media can lead to isolation, feelings of inadequacy, depression and even addiction. A new study recently released however is making headlines for another reason. It says that using Facebook, the giant of social media platforms, can make a person feel as satisfied as having a child or getting married. That’s right, this study from Carnegie Mellon University says that  users who see other people click the “Like” button or make a unique comment on something they post, report feelings of personal well-being similar to that of major life events like birth or marriage.
 
This is how the study worked. It involved a survey of 1,910 Facebook users from 91 countries all of whom were recruited from an ad on the social media site The mean age was 46.3 which is about 15 years older than the average Facebooker.  Over a period of three months study participants reported on their reactions to Facebook content as well as their overall feelings of satisfaction in their lives. They were also asked to report any major life events like a new family member, a death or a marriage. The researchers also monitored their Facebook activity during this same time. 
 
What? A few friends comments and likes and it’s the same kind of mental boost that a newlywed or new parent gets? According to study author Moira Burke that’s exactly what the study showed. In a press release from CMU she stated,"We're not talking about anything that's particularly labor-intensive. This can be a comment that's just a sentence or two. The important thing is that someone such as a close friend takes the time to personalize it. The content may be uplifting, and the mere act of communication reminds recipients of the meaningful relationships in their lives." She further explained that 60 of these special comments from close friends over the course of a month was the magic number to reach the wedding/baby level of happiness.
 
Not everyone is buying it though. In an article for Fusion, writer Taryn Hillin looked closer at the study and explained a few issues with it. The main one was that Moira Burke is employed by Facebook as a research scientist, so the question of bias must be considered. In addition the two events that are spoken of, getting married and having a baby, were only experienced by a very small number of the study volunteers. 4.1% reported “a pregnancy or welcoming of a new family member” which is rather vague, since a new family member could be a grandchild, niece, nephew or any other family connection. The number of participants who got married during the study was even smaller, 2.4% according to Hillin who spoke with Burke for the article.
 
The study was published by the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. While some questions have arisen from the study, the data was obtained via monitoring (that participants consented to) rather than a survey that depended on a user’s recollections of their online activity, so the researchers believe that makes it more accurate than other studies. The video below says more, check it out.

Sources: Carnegie MellonFusionJournal of Computer Mediated Communication 
 
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
SEP 16, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 16, 2019
Are Our Instincts Really Genetic?
Genetic explanations for our instincts are incomplete. Although they explain to some degree how we learn and suggest how these learnings are passed on, the...
SEP 16, 2019
Health & Medicine
SEP 16, 2019
Wi-Fi Poses A Growing Health Risk
Groups linked to the telecommunications industry claim there are no possible health impacts related to Wi-Fi use. Several recent studies signal that the op...
SEP 16, 2019
Drug Discovery
SEP 16, 2019
Can Psychedelics Treat Alcoholism?
Some of the first research on psychedelics in clinical settings was to assess their efficacy in treating alcoholism. In fact, LSD-based treatments for the ...
SEP 16, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 16, 2019
What Causes Addiction?
From nicotine to heroin, addiction is thought to be a reactive behavior to certain substances with addictive qualities. And so, convention has it that the ...
SEP 16, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 16, 2019
Do You Inherit Your Morals?
Morality is usually a subject discussed by philosophers, not biologists. But is it really a purely philosophical issues? After all, what makes us more susc...
SEP 16, 2019
Drug Discovery
SEP 16, 2019
Why Drugs that Work on Mice Don't Work on Humans
Mice are used as the frontline for drug testing for brain disorders. Why? Their brains are supposed to have much of the same functioning as ours. Moreover,...
Loading Comments...