When used sensibly and in moderation, Facebook is harmless fun, but excessive amounts of time on the site may lead some users to be dissatisfied with themselves or their lives, as reflected in low scores on self-esteem measures.
Self-Esteem and Facebook Usage: What’s the Connection?
- A 2012 Swedish study found a difference, though small, in self-esteem measures between regular and less frequent Facebook users. In the study 1,011 people (335 men and 676 women with an average age of 32.6) were surveyed. Those who used the site often scored lower in self-esteem than than the less frequent users. According to the researchers, “Results showed that Facebook usage had a significant negative relationship with self-esteem. In other words, the results indicated that users who spend more time on Facebook have lower self-esteem.” However, when control variables (gender, age, education, and income) were taken into account, the difference was insignificant.
- A study out of Utah Valley University also found a link between Facebook and self-esteem. In this study, 425 college students were surveyed about their Facebook habits. When students spent large amounts of time on the site and became Facebook friends with individuals they didn’t actually know personally, they were likely to rate others as having better lives or being happier.
- Despite the negative findings, it’s not all bad news when it comes to the relationship between Facebook usage and self-esteem. A Cornell University study looked at two groups: students in one group were allowed to view and update their Facebook profiles for three minutes, while those in the second group sat at an off computer with a mirror propped up so they could see their reflection. The students who viewed and updated their Facebook profiles for three minutes measured higher in self-esteem than those students who spent the same amount of time at an off computer with a mirror. It’s thought that editing their Facebook profiles allowed the study participants to focus on positive aspects of themselves, thus enhancing self-esteem.