Washington: Facebook lovers need to be aware, as a new study claims that use of the social media site can lead to symptoms of depression if it triggers feelings of envy among its users.
According to Margaret Duffy, a researcher at the University of Missouri, Facebook can be a fun and healthy activity if users take advantage of the site to stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives.
However, if it is used to see how well an acquaintance was doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship-things that cause envy among users-use of the site can lead to feelings of depression.
The researchers surveyed young Facebook users and found that some of those who engage in "surveillance use" of Facebook also experience symptoms of depression while those who use the site simply to stay connected do not suffer negative effects.
Surveillance use of Facebook occurs when users browse the website to see how their friends are doing compared with their own lives. The researchers found that Facebook postings about things such as expensive vacations, new houses or cars, or happy relationships can evoke feelings of envy among surveillance users. They say that these feelings of envy can then lead to Facebook users experiencing symptoms of depression.
Edson Tandoc added that social media literacy is important. Based on their study, as well as on what others have previously found, using Facebook can exert positive effects on well-being. But when it triggers envy among users, that's a different story.
Users should be self-aware that positive self-presentation is an important motivation in using social media, so it is to be expected that many users would only post positive things about themselves, he added.