Researchers link social media usage to anxiety

Too much Facebook could be stressing you out.

Have you been trembling a little more than normal? If you’ve already laid off the caffeine, you might want to consider a social media diet as well. A study by Anxiety UK linked social media usage with increased anxiety. That isn’t to say social media is all bad, the organization stressed (pardon the pun). It has led to some significantly positive advantages, like connecting people with each other in ways that wouldn’t have been possible before.

“For many, many people, the rise of technology has been a big help,” said Anxiety UK CEO Nicky Lidbetter. “Technology, particularly social networks, allows people who are housebound, due to conditions such as agoraphobia, the chance to interact with others far more easily than they were able to in the past. That is a really positive development.”

Increased connectivity does come with a few drawbacks, though. The study found more than 50 percent of individuals who regularly use social networking websites said their behavior changed negatively. Researchers cited issues such as a higher likelihood for social media users to compare themselves negatively to others, and trouble pulling themselves away from social media sites.

Before you go off of Facebook forever, keep in mind the survey only identified a correlation, which means social networking may not be causing anxiety. Maybe people predisposed to anxiety are just more likely to escape into Twitter or Facebook for relief. Besides, it can’t be all bad, as researchers are looking into ways of using social media to treat medical conditions!

The University of California-San Diego is working on a social media website that will provide self assessment tools for type I and type II diabetes. Researchers are hoping that using a social media platform will also encourage more patient-doctor interaction and information sharing, leading to a higher level of awareness of treatments and conditions.

“Social networking provides a common way for patients with chronic disease to learn about their condition while interacting with others in similar situations,” said Dr. Jason Bronner, associate clinical professor at UC-San Diego School of Medicine. “As opposed to open networks, the use of this tool allows us to ensure that the medical information they receive and share is accurate, safe and absent of advertising.”

How often do you log on to social networking sites? Do you think it has negatively impacted your lifestyle?

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.