A recently published study suggests that the more Facebook friends you have, the more stressed you may be. And stress really starts to kick in after befriending with more than 300 people on the social networking site, the research shows.
Researchers also found that Facebook-generated stress may up risk of depression on the long run. This may soon become a public health problem since about 81 percent of teenagers use a social media site, and 71 percent of those who reported using the sites were Facebook users.
Yet, this is not the first study that found a drawback of social media. A couple of months ago, a study found that peer pressure on social media sites boosted risk of depression and anxiety among adolescents.
The recent study suggests that friends on Facebook may influence stress levels and up depression risk on the long run. Study results showed that over 300 Fb friends significantly raised stress levels.
The study involved a group of 80 teens. Volunteers were asked various questions on Facebook use such as how often did they access the site, how many friends they had there, how often did they ‘liked’ their friends’ posts, and so on.
In the meantime, study participants’ cortisol levels (cortisol is a hormone that indicates how stressed a person really is) were measured four times a day for a couple of days. Worryingly, scientists found that adolescents who had more than 300 Facebook friends were more stressed than those who had fewer online friends.
Study authors didn’t conduct a study on people who have more than 1,000 or 2,000 friends but they assume that their cortisol levels and risk of depression may be even higher.
Nevertheless, scientists admitted that cortisol levels were not influenced solely by Facebook. There were other causes that played a part, but the social media site was tied to 8 percent of increased cortisol levels.
Yet, there is also a bright side. Teenagers who ‘liked’ their friends’ posts and expressed appreciation had lower cortisol levels.
But since high cortisol levels may hint at significant depression risk, researchers are concerned that teens with many friends on Facebook may be at risk in the future.
Professor Sonia Lupien, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Montreal in Canada, explained that teens with high cortisol do not develop depression ‘immediately.’ Past research had suggested that it takes on average 11 years for kids to develop severe depression after being exposed to prolonged stress.
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