The Facebook addiction that almost everyone seems to have has been linked to bigger issues of mental health. Researchers at the University of Missouri conducted a study that found that Facebook use can lead to symptoms of depression if the site triggers feelings of envy among users.
The study was conducted by Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri and Edson Tandoc, assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and was published in the February 2015 volume of Computers in Human Behavior. Duffy and Tandoc surveyed more than 700 young Facebook users and discovered that those who use the site to “survey” their friends experience symptoms of depression, while those who use the site purely to stay connected with others do not suffer negative effects.
The researchers found that Facebook posts about vacations, new houses or cars, happy relationships, and successful careers, can evoke feelings of envy among other users. These feelings of envy can then lead users to experience symptoms of depression due to the comparison of one’s own life to the lives of their Facebook friends.
In a news release, Duffy says that “We found that if Facebook users experience envy of the activities and lifestyles of their friends on Facebook, they are much more likely to report feelings of depression.”
“Social media literacy is important," Tandoc said in the release. "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. This self-awareness, hopefully, can lessen feelings of envy”.