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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?

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