A study by the University of Missouri says if Facebook causes envy, depression could soon follow.
MU School of Journalism professor Margaret Duffy and her team of researchers surveyed more than 700 Missouri college students to see if activities and motivations on Facebook that cause people to feel envious could also lead to depression.
“We specifically wanted to use college students because of that transitional time and because of their heavy Facebook use,” said Duffy.
Duffy says those who experienced symptoms of depression often engage in what she calls “surveillance use” of Facebook.
“This idea of Facebook envy really emerges in people who use Facebook primarily for surveillance,” said Duffy. “They simply look at and observe what’s going on with other people and they often compare themselves to other people.”
Duffy says it’s important to remember that most people try to present themselves in a positive light, not only in real life, but on Facebook as well.
“Being self-aware that a positive self-presentation is an important motivation in almost anybody using social media, you can kind of assume that many users are only posting positive things about themselves,” said Duffy. “Awareness can really make a difference and this self-awareness, we hope, can lessen feelings of envy.”
Duffy says Facebook can be a positive thing for many people and those who use the social networking site to simply stay connected do not suffer negative effects. She says there is no relationship between heavy Facebook use and depression.
Although the study specifically focused on college students, Duffy says they would like to look at how this study might manifest itself in different age groups and different cultures.