Researchers investigated the relationship between Facebook and perceptions of physical health

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Facebook use linked to perceptions of worsening physical health, new research from the University of Surrey, reports.

In the first study of its kind, published today in the journal Heliyon, researchers led by Dr. Bridget Dibb investigated the relationship between Facebook and perceptions of physical health.

One hundred and sixty five participants, all Facebook users, were surveyed to identify levels of comparison with others on the social networking site, self-esteem rates, perceived physical health and life satisfaction.

Researchers found that participants who compared themselves to others on Facebook had greater awareness of physical ailments, such as sleep problems, weight change and muscle tension.

It is believed that those who compare with others on Facebook may perceive more physical symptoms but equally, those who perceive more symptoms may compare more with others on Facebook.

Social comparison is a process where comparisons are made to others in order to evaluate our lives and are more likely to occur when we feel uncertain about our situation.

In addition, it was discovered that females and those experiencing anxiety or depression also perceived more symptoms.

Participants who were more satisfied with their lives and had high self-esteem rates were associated with fewer physical symptoms.

Researchers believe that the increased use of the social networking site may be associated with more opportunities to compare ourselves unfavourably to others who we perceive to be ‘better off’ than ourselves both in lifestyle and in health.

Dr. Bridget Dibb, Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of Surrey, said:

“Comparing ourselves to others is not a new concept; however, with the rise of social media it is becoming a part of our everyday lives.

“An entity like Facebook, with 2.27 billion active monthly users, has never existed before.

The long term effect it has on individuals is unknown, but it is clear that comparison with others is associated with perceptions of ill-health.

Users need to be aware of how they feel when they use sites like Facebook and recognise the dangers of comparisons in this context.”

The Facebook Addiction Test – Symptoms of Facebook Addiction

1. I often spend too much time on Facebook – usually more than I originally intend.
TRUE     FALSE

2. I am often tired in the morning because I stay up late on Facebook.
TRUE     FALSE

3. My friends or family have commented that I spend too much time on Facebook.
TRUE     FALSE

4. I spend more than two hours per day on Facebook for non-work related reasons.
TRUE     FALSE

5. I often use Facebook at work or school even though this is not permitted.
TRUE     FALSE

6. I would find it very difficult if I could not access my Facebook account for an entire day.
TRUE     FALSE

7. I have made an effort to collect as many “friends” as possible on Facebook.
TRUE     FALSE

8. Many of my Facebook friends are not really my friends offline.
TRUE     FALSE

9. My work or school performance has suffered due to too much Facebook use.
TRUE     FALSE

10. My relationships have suffered due to too much Facebook use.
TRUE     FALSE

11. I often spend hours at a time playing games on Facebook.
TRUE     FALSE

12. When I post an update on Facebook, I am very disappointed if no one comments on it.
TRUE     FALSE

13. I usually prefer talking to people on Facebook than in person.
TRUE     FALSE

14. I have attempted to reduce the amount of time I spend on Facebook but have not been successful.
TRUE     FALSE

15. I spend more time using Facebook compared to any other online activity.
TRUE     FALSE

16. I often use Facebook to avoid other responsibilities (e.g., work, homework, housework, etc.).
TRUE     FALSE

17. Since starting to use Facebook I spend less time doing other activities I used to enjoy (e.g., sports, exercise, socializing with others, hobbies, etc.).
TRUE     FALSE

18. Even though I have many Facebook friends, I still feel lonely.
TRUE     FALSE

19. I often login to Facebook when I am out socially with others.
TRUE     FALSE

20. Checking my Facebook account is one of the first things I do in the morning.
TRUE     FALSE

21. Checking my Facebook account is one of the last things I do at night.
TRUE     FALSE

22. I use Facebook when I am feeling stressed or depressed to make me feel better.
TRUE     FALSE

23. I am often late for school, work, meetings, or appointments because of my Facebook use.
TRUE     FALSE

24. I would get very upset if a friend did not “add” me to Facebook.
TRUE     FALSE


25. I have set my Facebook account so that I get always automatic notifications about what my friends are doing / saying.
TRUE     FALSE

26. It makes me feel bad if I know that someone has more Facebook friends than I do.
TRUE     FALSE

27. I think it would be virtually impossible for me to give up Facebook for an entire month.
TRUE     FALSE

28. I often confuse what someone has told me “in real life” and what was said on Facebook.
TRUE     FALSE

29. I often use Facebook when I am bored because I have nothing else to do.
TRUE     FALSE


SCORING: 
Total your “TRUES” and see below for score interpretation.

Interpretation:   

Of the 29 items above, how many did you answer as “True”? 

While there is no set number that indicates “Facebook Addiction”, obviously the more often you agreed with the above signs of overuse, the more likely it is that your Facebook habits are excessive or unhealthy.
  


0 – 5:
You are most likely a light user of Facebook – you can take it or leave it and it probably does not cause any significant problems in your life. 

6 – 10:
Facebook is a part of your daily routine. At times you may spend too much time with it and may regret long Facebook sessions after you finally log off.

11 – 20:
Your use of Facebook may be unhealthy or obsessive.  Too much time on Facebook may be causing or contributing to “real life” problems and you may use it to avoid other important responsibilities.

21+: 
Your life revolves around Facebook. You would find it very difficult to go more than a day or two without checking your account. Your relationships and your school or work performance are probably suffering due to excessive Facebook use. You would greatly benefit from learning why Facebook is addictive, reducing your Facebook time, and learning about tips and advice for Facebook Addiction.

More informationHeliyonDOI: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00989
Provided by University of Surrey

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