Having a lot of Facebook “friends” doesn’t necessarily make you popular, but it just might boost your stress to unhealthy levels, new research suggests.
A new study out of the University of Edinburgh Business School has found that the more groups of people in someone's roster of Facebook friends, the more likely the person is to be seriously stressed out by social media interactions.
The greatest sources of Facebook stress: Adding employers or parents to “friends” lists.
The problem, said lead researcher Ben Marder, is when Facebook users post personal comments or photos that some of their online “friends” — including bosses and family members — find offensive, such as posts displaying reckless behavior, drinking and smoking. As more older people join the site, this has become an increasing problem as their expectations may be very different from those of younger users, he added.
"Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance, drink and flirt,” said Marder, a career fellow in marketing at the Business School. “But now with your Mum, Dad and boss there the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines."
Marder’s research, which is based in part on surveys of more than 300 Facebook users, found that 55 percent of parents follow their children on the social media site and more than half of employers claim not to have hired someone based on their Facebook page.
Researchers found that on average people are Facebook friends with seven different social circles — including friends known offline (97 percent added them as friends online), followed by extended family (81 percent), siblings (80 percent), friends of friends (69 percent), and colleagues (65 percent).
They also found only one third use the listing privacy setting on their Facebook profile, which can be used to control the information seen by different types of friends.