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The (Anti)Social Network: Facebook’s Psychological Effects


We always suspected there might be something wrong with Facebook. Kids and adults alike spend hours on the site, making it one of the major channels of communication and socializing. What does that do to our minds and the way we interact with people? According to Erica Swallow for Mashable, there is now evidence that Facebook does have some psychological effects on its users.

The Down-Side(s)

Swallow cites a psych study by Dr. Larry Rosen, who surveyed 1,000 students and performed observational studies on study habits of 300 students. According to the study, some of the problems associated with Facebook include: narcissism, antisocial & aggressive behavior, and anxiety & depression. The New York Times also cited Dr. Rosen’s observation on the next generation’s use of instant messaging and chat: “The newest generations, unlike their older peers, will expect an instant response from everyone they communicate with, and won’t have the patience for anything less.” In addition to these behavioral and personality issues, students who use Facebook while studying have generally lower grades, as well as lower reading retention rates.

The Up-Side?

“Not all of the findings are negative,” says Swallow. “Teens are developing the ability to show virtual empathy for distressed Facebook friends and that empathy is actually well-received by friends, positively influencing their mood.” When someone online posts a status that says “bad day,” they will get comments from friends who try to make them feel better however they can. And in my opinion, these are mostly genuine comments, even from people who wouldn’t usually know how to comfort or console another.


Are these findings mere coincidence? Are there other factors that could have affected the results. Yes. But it seems logical that interactions and relationships that exist primarily online create a different kind of behavior over time. While these studies are not definitive, it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

Photos via Facebook

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