Facebook’s effect on mental health

Understanding Facebook’s report on the effects of social media on mental health

Written by Rebekah Connolly


Facebook recently released a blog post questioning whether spending time on social media is bad for us?

In a report entitled “Hard Questions: Is spending time on social media bad for us?” David Ginsberg, Director of Research at Facebook and Moira Burke, Research Scientist at Facebook questioned the effects which spending time on social media has on our mental health.

Findings of the report 

According to Facebook’s report the effect which social media can have over you depends on the way that you use it. You can either be on social media passively, scrolling through posts or actively, messaging and commenting on people’s posts. Just as in real life, the Facebook report says the research shows that those who participate on social media actively receive more benefits from it then those who stand-by and watch passively.

The studies in the Facebook report 

The Facebook report cites two examples which were taken from studies they conducted at the Carnegie Mellon University and at Cornell University.

One of the studies found that “people who sent or received more messages, comments and Timeline posts reported improvements in social support, depression and loneliness.” The study also found that the positive effects were even stronger when people talked with their close friends online.

The second study found that students who scrolled through their own Facebook profiles for five minutes experienced “boosts in self-affirmation” compared to students who looked at stranger’s Facebook profiles.

The study also then gave students who were stressed a choice of websites to visit including Facebook, YouTube, online music and online video games. The study then found that “ stressed students were twice as likely to choose Facebook to make themselves feel better as compared with students who hadn’t been put under stress.”

  •  The study concluded that it is about “how you use social media that matters when it comes to your well-being”
  • Although they were the findings of this report, it is important to remember that social media effects everyone differently. You should use it in the way that suits you best.
  • Stay safe on Facebook by reading our Facebook Safety Factsheet .


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