The Loh Down On Science

How does the world's largest social network affect us?

Do you have a love/hate relationship with Facebook?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying:

Don't worry, social scientists do too!  They really want to know whether the world's largest social network improves users' feelings of well-being.  But while some studies say yes, others say no. 

Weighing in on the "no" side is a new study by University of Michigan psychologists. 

They polled eighty-two Ann Arbor facebook users five times a day for two weeks.  At each random timepoint, users completed an online survey on their smartphones.  How positive or negative were they feeling at that moment?  Were they worried?  Lonely?  How much had they used Facebook, or interacted with others in-person, since the last timepoint? 

What did all this hounding—I mean polling—reveal?  That the more people used Facebook, the worse they later felt!  It didn't matter how many Facebook friends they had.  General depression and loneliness were also irrelevant, as was gender.  By contrast, in-person interactions made people feel better over time.

So get off the computer and go meet a pal!  But first friend me and “like” my cat photo.  Please.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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