Despite the recent teen obsession of expanding personal networks through the virtual world of social media, it may prove more beneficial both in the short- and long-term to be more mindful of how clicking affects the real world.
A study, performed by Professor Sonia Lupien and her colleagues of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal in Canada, reveals that teens who have more than 300 Facebook friends show higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. While other external lurking variables -- such as sex, age, perceived stress, etc. -- do also affect the release of the stress hormone, Facebook proves to hold partial responsibility in the increase of cortisol levels compared to teens with less than 300 Facebook friends, according to the research.
According to Prof. Sonia Lupien, these high-stress hormone levels could potentially affect neurobiological processes in the brain dealing with adaptation to depression.
"[...] Adolescents who present high stress hormone levels do not become depressed immediately; it can occur later on," explains Professor Lupien. "Some studies have shown that it may take 11 years before the onset of severe depression in children who consistently had high cortisol levels."
However, clicking does have its benefits. When used to promote positive peer interaction, social media can prove to decrease cortisol levels.