Study finds Facebook can alleviate stress

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Some days are better than others. When you’re feeling down, just being able to tell somebody how you feel can go a long way toward feeling better. Understandably, Facebook status updates have become an outlet to make many users feel more upbeat and connected.

With this in mind, a research study by the University of Berlin monitored the Facebook posts of 100 students from the University of Arizona for a week. Specifically, it asked the student volunteers to perform two actions. First, the students were instructed to post updates on Facebook more often than they normally would. After that, they answered questionnaires evaluating their mental well-being. In contrast, a control group was instructed to maintain the number of posts they usually make in a week.

The result was that students who posted more Facebook updates maintained their level of cheerfulness or depression throughout the week, just like the control group. However, the control group felt lonelier than the students who posted more updates.

Interestingly, even if no one paid attention to the posts, the students felt more connected to their online clique. This means frequent posting reduces a respondent’s sense of alienation, regardless of the amount of social media interaction that transpired during the week.

Explaining the findings, the researchers wrote in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science that frequent posting might help offset the lack of actual social interaction during certain periods. “Similar to a snack temporarily reducing hunger until the next meal, social snacking may help tolerate the lack of ‘real’ social interaction for a certain amount of time,” added the research team.