Does Facebook Stress You Out?

    February 18, 2011

The more Facebook friends people have , the more likely they are to feel stressed out by the site, according to a new study by Scottish researchers.

Do you feel stressed by the number of Facebook Friends you have? Let us know in the comments.

Psychologists from Edinburgh Napier University surveyed 200 students on their use of Facebook, and found that a for a significant number of users the negative effect of the social network outweighed the benefits of staying in touch with friends and family.

Dr-Kathy-Charles “The results threw up a number of paradoxes,” said Dr Kathy Charles, who led the study. “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.”

Highlights of the study include:

*12 percent of respondents said that Facebook made them feel anxious.  Of these, respondents had an average of 117 ‘friends’ each.  The remaining 88% of respondents, who said that Facebook did not make them feel anxious, had an average of 75 ‘friends’ each.

*63 percent delayed replying to friend requests

*32 percent said rejecting friend requests led to feelings of guilt and discomfort

*10 percent admitted disliking receiving friend requests

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

She said other causes of stress included deleting unwanted contacts, the pressure to be entertaining, and having to use appropriate etiquette for different types of friends.

“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,” said Dr. Charles.

WebProNews reached out to Dr. Charles for additional commentary about the Facebook study but has yet to receive a response.

Over at Slashdot commenter RoberM1968 had the following to say:

I dont find the amount of FB friends I have stressful, nor do I find deleting any of them stressful. I think people need to start reconnecting with the real world if they suffer stress from such things. Then again, the real world is a lot more stressful… maybe they should keep wasting their time on FB worrying about such "stressful" things – it’s a lot less stress than the real world nowadays.

Does Facebook stress you out? Let us know in the comments.