Poised to establish the impact of regular Facebook usage on users’ health, researchers from University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia — led by Prof. Eric Vanman, have found that frequent usage of Facebook could raise users’ stress levels.
The study, published in the Journal of Social Psychology explained how previous researchers have found that quitting the social media network can drastically lower your stress levels.
To commence the investigation, the team led by Prof. Vanman, a senior lecturer at the university’s School of Psychology, formed two groups of regular users of the social network, consisting of 138 participants. While one group was asked to stay off Facebook for five days, the other group participants continued their regular usage.
The study, as reported on Medical News Today, collected saliva samples from the groups participants before the experimentation and after the intervention, for the measurement of their stress levels, which will be revealed by the stress hormone, cortisol.
According to Prof. Vanman, “Taking a Facebook break for just 5 days reduced a person’s level of the stress hormone cortisol.”
Cortisol is known to soar when a person is stressed. In fact, the hormone is considered to be the key player in stress, regulating how our body responds to it”.
He further explained that too much cortisol can compromise our immune system, making us more vulnerable to infections, impairing our memory, and predisposing us to obesity, among other things.
Other negative effects of chronic exposure to cortisol over prolonged periods of time may include “impaired cognition, decreased thyroid function, and accumulation of abdominal fat, which has implications for cardiovascular health”, he stated.
While a reduction on the social media platform engagement or total withdrawal may reduce your stress level, as found by the study, it was also discovered that staying away from Facebook might make you sadder — at least in the beginning.
As Prof. Vanman remarked “While participants in our study showed an improvement in physiological stress by giving up Facebook, they also reported lower feelings of well-being.”
“People said they felt more unsatisfied with their life, and were looking forward to resuming their FB activity.”
Prof. Vanman speculates on what may have led to these results. He says, “People experienced less well-being after those 5 days without Facebook — they felt less content with their lives — from the resulting social disconnection of being cut off from their friends on the platform.”
“Abstaining from Facebook,” continues Prof. Vanman, “was shown to reduce a person’s level of cortisol, but people’s own ratings of their stress did not change — perhaps because they weren’t aware their stress had gone down.”
The team however acknowledged the renowned platform as a veritable tool of interaction for millions users across the globe, which obviously enhances intercontinental communication, and offers more benefits for users. Still, due to the plethora of social information it conveys about large network of people, its poses a danger of information overload to users.
The Takeaway from this study is, in as much as Facebook is recognised as an essential platform for social networking, quitting the platform may not be the best option, rather, users can control their activities on it, to ensure maximum result and best health output.