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Can Using Facebook Make You Sad?

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Many people use social media sites to relax and unwind from the stresses of the day, but a new study indicates Facebook in particular might actually make us feel worse.

In work published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge from Utah Valley University asked more than 400 college students how much time they spent on Facebook, their number of Facebook friends, how many of those friends they’d met in person, and to identify how much they agreed or disagreed with statements like “Life is fair” and “Many of my friends have a better life than me.”

The researchers found that as people spend more time on Facebook, they start to believe that others’ lives are superior to their own. In particular, viewing photos of smiling, happy people having a good time made them think their friends were happier overall than they are.

In addition, people who spent less time socializing with friends online and more time socializing with them in person were less likely to report feelings of unhappiness — probably because real-life interactions aren’t carefully culled to reveal only our brightest, happiest moments.

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