Reports Are That Facebook Can Diminish Self-Esteem

Facebook-iconToday I spent some time with a friend of mine – a 67-year old lady from my church. I was actually helping her understand a few things, or a lot of things, about her new Macbook Air. Hey, it’s never to late to be tech-savy, right?!

As our time ended together, we began talking about all sorts of things. Somehow we got onto the topic of Facebook. I can’t quite recall how, though. She told me she had recently read that, after spending some time on Facebook during the day, a large percentage of folk feel quite negative about themselves (she couldn’t quite recall the exact figure, though she projected it very high).

So I thought I’d do a little research online to see some statistics. I read through 3 brief articles and everything seemed to point to quite a bit of negative self-esteem following interaction with Facebook. And I suppose most would not need to see statistics to confirm such studies.

But what do some of the statistics and findings communicate?

In February 2012, Live Science reported this:

The thread running through these findings is not that Facebook itself is harmful, but that it provides a place for people to indulge in self-destructive behavior, such as trumpeting their own weaknesses or comparing their achievements with those of others.

[…]

In research presented earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychologists (SPSP) in San Diego, [Mudra] Mukesh and her co-author Dilney Goncalves found that when people think about the last time someone asked to friend them on Facebook, they get a boost in feelings of belonging and social connectedness ­— the kind of feeling that makes people “sing ‘Kumbaya,'” Mukesh told LiveScience.

But once you’ve collected all those friends, viewing their status updates is a downer, Mukesh said. When asked how they felt about their place in life and their achievements, people with lots of Facebook friends gave themselves lower marks if they’d just viewed their friends’ status updates, compared with people who hadn’t recently surfed the site.

And there were some interesting comments about males:

In another study presented at the SPSP conference, researchers at the University of Houston surveyed college students and found that time spent on Facebook is linked to depressive symptoms. That doesn’t mean Facebook causes depression, but that depressed feelings and lots of Facebooking tend to go hand in hand, for whatever reason. For young men, the study found, the link seemed to be a tendency to compare oneself with others.

It appears as if males, when they socially compare themselves on Facebook, they tend to experience depressive symptoms,” study researcher and University of Houston doctoral student Mai-Ly Nguyen told LiveScience.

In this case, Facebook seems to be a new medium for men to compete with one another, Nguyen said. Outside the digital realm, men often compare themselves with one another, she said. It may be that women more often use the site to connect with one another and men to compete with one another.

In an article from Science 2.0 in June 2012, we find statistics about those aged 14-24. Interestingly enough, the emphasis was more on the negative effects with females:

– Specifically, vulnerability to bullying was stated by 44% as reason for feeling unhappy about using the site, as well as increased negative self esteem (28%); depression sparked by unfavorable comparisons with other people’s lives (25%); and plain jealousy of others (24%).

Nearly half of all young women (45%) felt that Facebook intensifies an obsession with appearance. Moreover, 33% of males concurred, with over a quarter stating that it boosts the acceptance of sexually provocative presentation.

– A growing frustration was articulated with the Facebook culture’s inability to enable authentic expression of character. This is offset by young men’s relish at the opportunity afforded to exaggerate the facts about themselves, with 44% admitting to this.

Young women claim to suffer more from the adverse effects of Facebook than their male counterparts with more female deleters and complainants of harmful consequences.

Finally, from the UK Telegraph in July 2012, we read these findings about both Facebook and Twitter:

A poll of those using the technology found more than half of those surveyed said the sites had changed their behaviour – and half of those said their lives had been altered for the worse.

Most commonly, those who suffered a negative impact from social media said their confidence fell after comparing their own achievements to those of friends online.

Two-thirds said they found it hard to relax completely or to sleep after spending time on the sites.

And one quarter of those polled said they had been left facing difficulties in their relationships or workplace after becoming confrontational online.

So, here’s a broad question I’d love your thoughts on: What do you think of these statistics?

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6 thoughts on “Reports Are That Facebook Can Diminish Self-Esteem

  1. I must admit that I have seen these stats before but I was quite puzzled by it. I really like to see what everyone is up to, pictures of kids and travels, connecting with old friends who are now all over the world. Perhaps, like many things in life, we need to establish a few boundaries to get the most benefit out of FB.

    One of my collegues refuses to accept friend requests from people she works with. Her view is that they have nothing to do with her personal life and can connect with her on LinkedIn or another platform. I have other friends who say they don’t have time for FB.

    Same as for TV, video games, internet, etc, etc, the only one who will protect me from myself is me. I have to set the boundaries and decide what is good for me and what is not. 😉

    • Ronel –

      Thanks for commenting! I think what is generally being communicated is that these people read so much about how peoples’ lives are so good – because of their kids, their spouse, their work, their ministry, etc, etc – that it makes people start comparing themselves with others and believing they don’t measure up.

  2. It all boils down to where you get your self-worth. Our true self-worth can only be found through Christ. Facebook just provides another way in which we compare ourselves with others (who coincidentally admit that they make themselves look better online), so of course we will always feel mediocre at best. “The grass is always greener” applies when comparing your life to someone else’s. But they aren’t sharing all the negatives they have in their “perfect” lives. Rest assured, no matter how good they seem to have it, the reality is likely MUCH different. We need to be content with the life that God has given US, and THEN we can be happy with whatever good fortune (real or imagined) happens to others.

  3. I’ve just decided to take a break from FB for the exact reasons above. Maybe its because I am an introvert maybe because i am just tired but more often than not I close my FB session with negative feelings. (not depressed but negative). That can’t be good and I look forward to a FB free June!

  4. Pingback: Facebook and Self Esteem… | The Parson's Patch

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