Researchers have found yet another reason to dub the new wave of teenagers as the “Facebook generation” upon finding the social network can have a rather negative role in terms of stress.
- Facebook connects, but can also cause stress in teens
- More than 300 pals on Facebook was associated with 8 percent increase in cortisol
- The study’s findings are based on assessing 88 teenagers, aged 12-17
- Early stress symptoms can turn later into depression
Yes, Facebook can also help people stay connected – and even boost one’s self-esteem – but researchers at the University of Montreal recently discovered that having more virtual friends isn’t necessarily a good thing. Just like in real-life, more friends can translate into elevated levels of stress, even if just by a small margin.
The study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology revealed that exceeding 300 friends on Facebook meant higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in teens when compare to those who had fewer than 300 friends. And even though this study focused on teens, all of us could use a break from Facebook from time to time.
In the study, researchers enrolled 88 teenagers aged between 12 and 17 and asked them to fill out some questionnaires about their Facebook use, such as how many friends they currently have, how often did they logged in, how did they interact with the platform in terms of self-promotion and what did they do to support their friends online.
For three consecutive days, the adolescents also gave cortisol samples four times a day, which led the researchers to find that teens with more than 300 Facebook friends had significantly higher levels of the stress hormone.
Evidently, Facebook is not by far the only stress-causing factor in a teen’s life; researchers also factored in puberty, homework and the mandatory schoolyard drama into the equation. Prof. Sonia Lupien, the study’s leading author, explained that, while there are other external factors for stress, the isolated effect of Facebook was estimated at 8 percent in terms of cortisol.
Even though this matter is outside the scope of the current study, prior research has documented the dangerous effect that elevated cortisol levels can have over time. Another study found that excessive stress during early adolescence is often a sign of depression later on.
Being a big Facebook user during teen years can often mean narcissistic qualities in a person who receives lower grades in school, a fact studied in a previous research that evaluated depressive symptoms. Minimizing some of the adverse effects of social media should mean talking to the kids at an early age about the do’s and dont’s.
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