Facebook and Its Effects on Our Mood

By: Sophia Dyer, M.Ed
Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Intern
After School Counseling Program (2012-2014)
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Program (2012-2013)

“Are you on facebook again? Why don’t you go outside and play?” Sound familiar? The” facebook argument” is a common one between parents and their teens. With the relatively new rise of social media, many parents find themselves fighting with their teen over social networking use. The parent is concerned their teen is spending too much time on the computer and not enough time engaging in in-person, face-to-face interaction. The teen often laments that his or her parents are too old to understand that this is how teens connect these days. So what are parents to think? Should they be worried about the time their teens spend on Facebook?

In a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan and Leuven University in Belgium, researchers found that the more time an individual spends on Facebook, a common social networking site, the less satisfied that person is with life. The study took place during a two week period. During this time, researchers periodically asked participants how many times they had been on Facebook, and subsequently surveyed their mood. The study found that the more frequently a person had used Facebook over the two week period, the less satisfied they were with life. On the other hand, the more in-person or over-the-phone interactions participants had with others, the more positive they felt.

So, what does this mean for parents and teens? At the very least, it is important for parents to speak with their teen about their social networking use. Open communication can build healthy boundaries surrounding when and how to use social media. Further, while the findings of the study do not imply that parents need to ban their children from using Facebook, they do highlight the importance of encouraging your teen to seek out relationships in which they are spending time and interacting with others. Helping your teen set boundaries around their social networking use and creating meaningful in-person experiences will foster individual growth, and ultimately lead them to feel more positively about their life.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0069841 (acutal study)
http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21583593-using-social-network-seems-make-people-more-miserable-get-life (news article)
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-08/uom-fup080713.php (news article)

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