Stress links to Facebook friends, say researchers


THE more Facebook ‘friends’ you have the more likely you are to feel stressed out, according to a new study by Scottish researchers.

Psychologists from Edinburgh Napier University quizzed around 200 students on their use of the social network site.

The more Facebook friends you have, the more stressed you areich now has more than 500 million users worldwide.

And they found that for a significant number of users the negative effects of Facebook outweighed the benefits of staying in touch with friends and family.

Dr Kathy Charles, who led the study, said: “The results threw up a number of paradoxes. For instance, although there is great pressure to be on Facebook there is also considerable ambivalence amongst users about its benefits.

“Our data also suggests that there is a significant minority of users who experience considerable Facebook-related anxiety, with only very modest or tenuous rewards.

“And we found it was actually those with the most contacts, those who had invested the most time in the site, who were the ones most likely to be stressed.”

An online survey of students’ attitudes towards Facebook made up part of the study.

Around 12 per cent of those who responded said that Facebook made them feel anxious and 63 per cent delayed replying to friend requests.

A further 32 per cent said rejecting friend requests led to feelings of guilt and discomfort and 10 per cent admitted disliking receiving friend requests.

Dr Charles added: “An overwhelming majority of respondents reported that the best thing about Facebook was ‘keeping in touch’, often without any further explanation.

“But many also told us they were anxious about withdrawing from the site for fear of missing important social information or offending contacts.

“Like gambling, Facebook keeps users in a neurotic limbo, not knowing whether they should hang on in there just in case they miss out on something good.

“The other responses we got in focus groups and one-to-one interviews suggests that the survey figures actually under represent aspects of stress and anxiety felt by some Facebook users, whether it’s through feelings of exclusion, pressure to be entertaining, paranoia or envy of others’ lifestyles.”