Research from the University of Michigan shows that using Facebook may decline someone’s feeling of well-being. The press headlines read “Using Facebook can reduce young adults’ sense of well-being and satisfaction with life” and are somewhat sensational but completely understandable.
People around the world love to post their life online and share information with family and friends. In fact many people feel it’s nearly a duty to keep people informed and actually understanding what their family is up to. I am sure this sort of activity has a positive impact on people’s lives, especially when people respond to a post with good comments.
What Michigan’s study looks at however is the difference between people’s interactions online and offline and although I’m not going to give you the full details of the research results (available here), here is the concluding comment.
The human need for social connection is well established, as are the benefits that people derive from such connections –. On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling such needs by allowing people to instantly connect. Rather than enhancing well-being, as frequent interactions with supportive “offline” social networks powerfully do, the current findings demonstrate that interacting with Facebook may predict the opposite result for young adults—it may undermine it.
The finer points of the study made for interesting reading. While most people would consider spending time on Facebook to be a social activity, the Michigan University study considers social networking as a solitary activity that doesn’t address our need to socialize at all.
My take on these results is that we must lead a balanced life both online and offline and importantly we need to educate our kids in the value of offline interaction, something sadly in decline.
We need to encourage our kids in this way and ensure that they do not hide behind technology as the only method of communication.
I wonder how many of us have seen kids texting each other in the same room to communicate? A balance will mean we enjoy both online and offline life and enjoy our interactions with a positive increase to our wellbeing.