Psychologists say Twitter, Instagram, and email relax us… but Facebook doesn’t

Social media’s been blamed for everything from riots to loneliness to Ched Evans not being able to get a new football contract (no, really, I’m crying on the inside). The Oxford Dictionary added #FOMO as proof that Instagram makes us feel like we never do anything fun anymore, and if you aren’t complaining about having too many emails or wondering how to get more Twitter followers, you might want to check you’re still breathing.

But it turns out that social media isn’t making us miserable after all – for the most part, at least. According to Scientific American, researchers from Pew surveyed 1801 internet users and found that people who spend a lot of time online aren’t stressed out by it. In fact, it can actually boost our moods.

The researchers asked participants to rate themselves on the Perceived Stress Scale. The average score for women was 10.5 out of 30; for men it was 9.8. While there was no difference between men who embrace the internet and men who don’t, the survey showed a 21% reduction in stress levels for women who use Twitter several times, send/receive 25 emails, and share two photos every day.

For the men and women who didn’t experience a reduction in stress, there was still no evidence that internet use made them want to tear their hair out. With one exception: Facebook. And it’s not even the social experiments or changes to site design; it’s more that it does its job too well, keeping us informed of all the bummer events in our friends’ and families’ lives. This also affects women more than men, with FB clueing us in on 13% more stressful events (such as divorce or a relative’s death), whereas for men it’s 8%.

Still, overall this is good news. Time away from the internet can be a great way to decompress if you feel you need it, but if you don’t, chances are it isn’t going to stress you out – unless you head over to you-know-where…

Image via Pixabay.

Diane Shipley

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