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Stress and Anxiety Linked To Facebook “Friendship”

facebook stressMany Facebook users rank associate their popularity on the site with the number of Facebook friends they have. As a result, some go as far as just accepting all friend requests whether they know the person or not. Apart from the risks associated with this mindset, researchers have now found that those with the most friends on Facebook are more likely to feel stressed out by the Website.

According to the Edinburgh Napier University psychology researchers, who used focus groups, an online survey and one-to-one interviews to collect data, a significant minority of Facebook users suffered considerable Facebook-related anxiety with very little rewards. While more than one in ten participants said Facebook made them feel anxious, quite worrying, over three in ten actually felt guilty about rejecting friend requests.

According to the study, those with the most friends had invested the most time on Facebook and were more likely to be stressed as users feel pressurised to write regular updates about their lives. In addition, although there appears to be pressure to be on Facebook, most users appear to have found aspects of it to be beneficial. However, many users were anxious about withdrawing from the site because they were either afraid of missing important information or offending friends.

Furthermore, Dr. Kathy Charles, who led the study, “like gambling, Facebook keeps users in a neurotic limbo, not knowing whether they should hang on in there just in case they miss out on something good.” Other responses received in the focus groups and one-to-one interviews reveal purging unwanted contacts, the pressure to be inventive and entertaining, and having to use appropriate etiquette for different types of friends, as other sources of stress and anxiety felt by some Facebook users.

Summary of the “Facebook-anxiety” survey result

  • 12 per cent of respondents said that Facebook made them feel anxious.  Of these, respondents had an average of 117 ‘friends’ each.  The remaining 88% of respondents, who said that Facebook did not make them feel anxious, had an average of 75 ‘friends’ each.
  • 63 per cent delayed replying to friend requests.
  • 32 per cent said rejecting friend requests led to feelings of guilt and discomfort.
  • 10 per cent admitted disliking receiving friend requests.

Talking Point

Do you feel under pressure to use and have lots of friends on Facebook?

Written By

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  1. Marc

    March 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I don’t use Facebook for this very reason. You always feel obliged to respond when people contact you or make a friend request even if you don’t really want to.

  2. Henway

    March 2, 2011 at 4:02 am

    I quit FB a few months ago. I wasn’t feeling stressed per se, but I was feeling a ton of negativity. I got jealous of ppl as they posted pics of their social lives. I kept cyber stalking girls I had crushes on. I was more concerned with posting a witty update than connecting with others on a deeper level. All in all, it felt like high school all over again. All superficial, nothing real and fulfilling.

  3. Maria Pavel

    March 2, 2011 at 4:16 am


    Indeed, the webmasters calculate their popularity by the number of the followers (Twitter) and friends (Facebook). It is very important to earn friends as many as possible in order to raise your chances of going both viral and bacterial, considerating that you already have a great high-quality unique content on your websites. Great facts and a lot of quality information in this article, this is what I was talking about, the type of content that will go viral and bacterial. Thanks for sharing this, interesting and very useful as usually!

    Best regards,


    • Admin

      March 14, 2011 at 12:46 am

      Interesting. I suppose that means even Webmasters are not immuned from the stress and anxiety associated to Facebook as they battle for followers and friends.

  4. silpada

    March 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I do not use face book as it is develop some sort of internal distraction and anxiety in the users.

  5. Jes

    April 12, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    It’s pretty much a self-esteem issue. If the number of internet friends that you have affects you to the point where you’ll add random people just to up the number, then it’s basically showing you’re insecure.

  6. Mike

    August 12, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Hi Admin , just read a report that shows over half a million Facebook users are deactivating their accounts every month around the world .Perhaps the anxiety and stress associated with keeping these virtual social lives that you describe are turning people off the platform for good.

    Mike T

  7. lisa

    September 10, 2011 at 6:10 am

    According to this you can say that around the world one half million Facebook users deactivate their accounts. Because now a days Facebook is very popular but some of that users accept all the friend request even they don’t know who is their. So, the user having more number of Facebook friends are in stress and anxiety after log out from the Facebook……….

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