Frank Salvatore
Health and Lifestyle

Social Media Habits and Self-Esteem

February 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Each month, over one and a half billion people use Facebook. People typically spend about an hour on the site each day, which adds up to be the second most time-consuming leisure activity next to watching television. When it comes to reading and exercising, Americans spend 19 minutes and 17 minutes on each respectively. These numbers are only averages. Some spend much more time using Facebook each day, which is starting to show signs of negative consequences.


People show off the best parts of their lives on Facebook, which makes an onlooker assume that their entire life is as perfect as what they are seeing in the picture. These posts can make people feel envious if they try to compare their own lives with the lives depicted in the pictures. This can decrease one’s mood and well-being. It can also be a factor in developing depression.

Studies have shown that Facebook users who take a break from the social networking site for just one week reported having much higher levels of both their emotional life and their life satisfaction. The increases in overall happiness were the most significant among those who use Facebook the most. along with people who often lurk on Facebook and people who find themselves to be envious of others.

However, if you use Facebook on a daily basis and are also interested in improving your well-being, you may not need to quit the altogether. Instead, researchers have suggested that frequent users make adjustments in their usage to encourage a positive change in their well-being.

Forecasting Error: Those Who Expect to Feel Better After Using Facebook, Don’t

A forecasting error refers to a study that found that people who expect to feel better following a bit of time on Facebook, actually feel worse. This makes sense because people would not use Facebook if they expected it to make them feel poorly. However, some still realize that scrolling through Facebook can decrease their mood.

This relationship between Facebook and depression is subjective and complex. There are many factors involved for each individual person, such as psychological well-being, social behaviors, and behavioral factors. People who find themselves to be depressed after looking at Facebook also tend to be people who often ruminate on things, rather than brush them off.

People who use Facebook are more at risk of having symptoms of depression if they:

  • Are jealous of others
  • Are friends with former partners on Facebook
  • Compare themselves to others
  • Post negative thoughts frequently

Social Comparison if Detrimental

Studies have found a link between Facebook usage and symptoms of depression, leading to the tendency to compare oneself with others. It is widely known that comparing yourself to a more successful person will make you feel worse while doing the opposite will make you feel better.

The problem is when you are only seeing the highlights of someone’s life, you have a skewed view of their reality. People are less likely to show the world their daily struggles on Facebook than they are to celebrate their successes.

If you do not feel well after scrolling through Facebook, it may be best to step away from it for a while. Facebook has shown to lead people to make social comparisons that promote dissatisfaction in oneself.

Downfalls of Facebook Usage

Using Facebook at night is linked to a decrease in quality sleep as well as an increase in disturbed sleep. People stay up late to keep up with what is going on with their friends and are also woken up in the middle of the night by the sounds of notifications from Facebook. Also, the blue light that is emitted from the screen reduces melatonin levels, which is a hormone that is needed to fall asleep.

Facebook also makes an effort to have people stay on their site longer. To keep up with other social media sites, Facebook continuously updates its News Feed and posts to tailor to your specific interests. In turn, the more time that their users spend on the site, the more information they can gather on what their customers want. This includes what kinds of advertisements come up when you look at Facebook. They are often targeted towards things that you have recently looked up or expressed interest in in some sort of way.

Facebook has actually teamed up with pharmaceutical companies to create the most effective advertising for the age and gender of the social media user. Facebook is even letting drug companies sponsor community pages that are made to bring people together who are suffering from a similar medical condition.

Facebook can be a great escape and a really effective way to stay in touch with friends and family. However, it is important to remember to not compare yourself with how others portray their lives on the social media site. Be aware of how such social media websites make you feel, and follow your feelings to create your own social media habits.

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Frank Salvatore