Fewer "Friends" May Lead to Increased Happiness



Less time spent on Facebook might improve mental health. Forget the status about your roommate’s neighbor from home who just scored your dream job or the photos of your sister’s best friend’s engagement ring. The News Feed can be overwhelmingly positive, which is why you’re better off spending more than in the real world than staring at the screen.

There may be a correlation between a Facebook user’s disposition about their life and the amount of time spent on the social network, according to a study by sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge at Utah Valley University. The study, published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking journal, stated that Facebook provides a platform for people to manage others’ impression of themselves. People tend to present themselves in a favorable way on their profiles. The sociologists found that the more time people spend on Facebook, the more they believe that other people have a better life than they do.

“Those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives. Furthermore, those that included more people whom they did not personally know as their Facebook ‘friends’ agreed more that others had better lives” (Chou and Edge, 2012).

The study also found that people that spent less time on Facebook and more time with friends were less likely to be unhappy. Facebook users are more likely to catalog only happy moments and photos of their lives, which may lead other users to believe that only happy things happen all the time.

More and more people seem to be adhering to this advice, according to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life project. Facebook, the most popular social media site in the country, is used by two thirds of online American adults (67 percent).

The study found that 61 percent of current Facebook users say they have taken a break from using the site at least once in the past. Reasons for the break include a not enough time to spend on the site, a general lack of interest, the absence of compelling content, excessive gossip, or concerns that too much time was spent on the site (Pew Research Center, 2013).

Other verbatim thoughts given include the following: “It was not getting me anywhere,” “I gave it up for lent,” “People were posting what they had for dinner,” “I didn’t like being monitored,” “I don’t like their privacy policy,” and “It caused problems in my [romantic] relationship.”

Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: Facebook might be doing more harm than good.