It's a love/hate relationship: Having lots of Facebook friends is stressful, research finds


The stress of Facebook is starting to outweigh the benefits, especially for heavy users, a new study has found.

The research, conducted by psychologists from Edinburgh Napier University, found that while the majority of respondents said Facebook is great for keeping in touch, the pressure is starting to get to some.

12% of respondents said that Facebook made them feel anxious, 32% said rejecting friend requests led to feelings of guilt and discomfort, and 10% even admitted disliking receiving friend requests.

‘Although there is great pressure to be on Face book ,there is also considerable ambivalence amongst users about its benefits. Our data also suggests that there is a significant minority of users who experience considerable Facebook-related anxiety, with only very modest or tenuous rewards,’ said Dr Kathy Charles, who led the study.

‘We found it was actually those with the most contacts, those who had invested the most time in the site, who were the ones most likely to be stressed.’

In addition to reported feelings of exclusion, pressure to be entertaining, paranoia or envy of others’ lifestyles, several respondents also noting they felt anxiety when they were not on Facebook, as this meant they could be missing important social information or offending contacts.

This means the effect of the social networking site is starting to resemble a ‘neurotic limbo of gambling’, said Dr Charles: ‘Like gambling, Facebook keeps users in a neurotic limbo, not knowing whether they should hang on in there just in case they miss out on something good.’

Judging from this, it seems the term ‘Facebook addiction’ may soon be no laughing matter.