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Negative Effects of Facebook Might Outweigh the Benefits of Staying in Touch

By February 16, 2011facebook, news

Ah, the trials and tribulations of online popularity.

Turns out, the more friends you have on Facebook, the more miserable you’re likely to be, experts have found.

A study from Edinburgh Napier University concludes that, “for a significant number of users, the negative effects of Facebook outweigh the benefits of staying in touch with friends and family,” after quizzing around 200 students on their use of the social networking site.

Researchers reported that those who invested the most time on the site and had the most ‘friends’ were also most at risk of being stressed.

Dr. Kathy Charles, who led the study, points out a number of conflicting dichotomies, such as the nebulous utility the site actually offers versus some perceived social obligation to use the site.

“For instance, although there is great pressure to be on Facebook, there is also considerable ambivalence among users about its benefits,” she said in a statement.

Certain actions that power users deal with regularly can cause psychological strain. Rejecting friend requests caused 32 percent of respondents to feel guilty while 12 percent said Facebook in general made them feel anxious.

But it’s hard to quit when all your friends are still playing. “Like gambling, Facebook keeps users in a neurotic limbo, not knowing whether they should hang on in there just in case they miss out on something good,” said Charles.

“The other responses we got in focus groups and one-to-one interviews suggest the survey figures actually under-represent aspects of stress and anxiety felt by some Facebook users, whether it’s through feelings of exclusion, pressure to be entertaining, paranoia or envy of others’ lifestyles.”

Logging out may not be such a bad idea after all.