Facebook asks: Is social media bad for our mental health?

Facebook has pointed out the multiple benefits, as well as the many negatives, of using social media and the impact it has on your mental health.

In a new blog post, David Ginsberg, Director of Research, and Moira Burke, Research Scientist at Facebook, posed the question we’ve all been asking: Is social media bad for our mental health?

“A lot of smart people are looking at different aspects of this important issue”, said the authors.

“We want Facebook to be a place for meaningful interactions with your friends and family — enhancing your relationships offline, not detracting from them. After all, that’s what Facebook has always been about.”

According to the report, people who spend a lot of time “passively consuming” information report feeling worse afterwards. A study showed how students’ mental health was negatively impacted after being assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes, compared to students who were asked to actively take part in Facebook discussions.

A separate study also found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average.

The arguments for social media include the ability to actively interact with people. Social media allows individuals to share and become involved in conversations they may not necessarily be able to in day to day life – for example, when you’re isolated from your closest friends and family.

Likewise, people who receive more messages report improvements in social support, depression, and loneliness.

It’s hard to know if the negatives outweigh the positives in terms of social media use, but it’s evident that even for social media heavyweights such as Facebook, the issue of mental health is becoming an increasing priority.