Can Social Media Really Affect Your Mood?
According to research from Pew, 73% of online adults use social networking platforms – this is a huge number of people, and with the average person spending 15 hours and 33 minutes a month on Facebook, it is no wonder people are starting to question the affect it is having on us.
A survey conducted by mobile voice over company, Rebtel, showed that feelings were affected by the amount of time spent on social networks. Facebook had the biggest effect on stress levels; followed by Twitter, which also gave people negative vibes.
Facebook celebrated its tenth birthday in February and has now been used by over a billion people right around the world. Although Facebook caused the most stress, it also elicited the biggest positive effect on the mood of users, in comparison to other social platforms. 45.9% of people said that Facebook had a positive effect on their mood, whereas YouTube only saw 17.5% of people feel more positive.
This intriguing science surrounding social media use is really demonstrating just how much of an effect personal connections can have on our health and mood. Just as photos and posts can become viral and spread from person to person, so can a mood or habit, regardless of how far apart from each other the users are.
A recent study by U. C. San Diego researchers involved analysing 100 million Facebook users in the US. They found mood was affected both negatively and positively by related posts, but that positive posts were much more influential and contagious across the network.
Beaumont Psychiatrist, Howard Belkin, wanted to remind people to think about what they are writing before they post it on a social network, as you never know who it may affect and in what way. He said:
“If you’re having a problem and you’re sad or you’re upset about something and you post something, that’s more of a negative. The people around you very well may come and they may help you and they may say something that will improve your mood, everyone’s mood.”
In regards to Twitter, James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis found that happiness spreads quickly through social networks and if your friends and family are happy, then you are likely to be too. With people gaining extra “friends” in a more general manner with the people they connect with on a social network, mood swings will start to affect bigger groups of people.
Unfortunately though, in one study, one in three Facebook users were found to experience jealousy and envy after a period of time spent on the network, this was felt mainly by those who were always looking at positive posts from friends who were happy and cheerful and always flaunting their life across the platform.
Social media is part of our daily routine now, and it completely fulfils our social desires to interact with other people, it does affect our moods, but it doesn’t always have to be negatively – as they say “a smile is contagious, so start an epidemic!”