Frequent Facebook users are more likely to report feeling less happy and content in their lives than people who spend less time using the online social network, a new study finds.
Swedish researchers who tracked the online habits of more than 1,000 Facebook users – aged 17 to 73 years – said the association between well-being and frequent use of the networking site was most pronounced in women, as well as less-educated and low-income people.
The study, conducted by University of Gothenburg psychology specialists, also found the use of Facebook is “habit-forming” in a way that approaches addiction, which may account for researchers’ findings on its links to well-being.
About 85 percent of the study participants said they use Facebook daily, half indicated that it is difficult to stay “on top of things” without it and one-quarter reported feeling “ill at ease if they didn't get to log in” on a regular basis.
“Facebooking may become an unconscious habit,” said lead researcher Leif Denti. “A majority of the respondents log in every time they start their web browser. This may even develop into an addiction.”
Among the survey’s key findings:
• Women spend an average of 81 minutes per day on Facebook; men spend 64 minutes.
• Users with low income and low education use Facebook more than other groups. Within these groups, users who spend more time on Facebook also report feeling less happy and less content with their lives. This relationship is also present for women, but not for men.
• The average user spends 75 minutes per day on Facebook and logs on to Facebook 6.1 times per day
• 70 percent log in every time they start their computer or web reader
• 26 percent feel ill at ease if they do not get to log in regularly
• Women write more about emotions and relationships
• One third of the men try to provoke others on Facebook, which is twice the figure for women