I recently read this to this article in The Guardian titled, “Facebook admits it poses mental health risk.” Apparently, studies have found that spending time on Facebook “passively consuming information” can leave people “feeling worse.” There are three reasons I believe this is true.
To begin, Facebook and other media sites give people a false sense of connection s most of you know, I consider social connection and social support to be one of the three essential ingredients of mental health. People go on Facebook to connect with their friends and family. But is this really connecting? When two people are together gace-to-face, a chemical interaction between their brains makes them feel close and bonded. But, for this chemical interaction to occur, the people must be having a live, personal communication.
You are not going to get the same experience if you are sitting at your computer all day and Facebooking friends and acquaintances. This is why the article in the Guardian says mobile phones and social media have redefined modern relationships, making people “alone together.”
Second, reading about other people’s lives online can lead to “negative social comparison,” the tendency to compare yourself to others and find yourself lacking. When you go on Facebook to see how your friends are doing what you see is only the positive aspects of their lives. They may be talking about their recent trip to the Caribbean or their child’s being accepted to a prestigious university. You may think to yourself, “Their lives are perfect and I feel like crap. So, comparing your else to others is a trap, and to the extent that being Facebook make it tempting to do so, it is bad for your mental health
Finally, when you are sitting in front of a computer for extended periods of time, it is bad for your physical health. Some have called excessive sitting “the new smoking.” The body was designed to move. This is why study after study shows that exercise is one of the best treatments for depression.
Of course, Facebook is not all bad. It’s a way for people to find old friends and it has recently been used to organize social movements such as the West Virginia’s teacher’s strike and the young people’s March on Washington. The key is, like everything else, to use it in moderation. So if you suffer from depression or anxiety and spend time on Facebook, make sure that you balance it out, but taking a break to move your body, and spending time with those you love.