STUDY: Students With Largest Friend Lists Feel Stress

Research suggests people with the biggest lists of contacts on Facebook are likeliest to feel stressed out by the website.

This comes from an Edinburgh Napier University study of roughly 200 students, using focus groups, online surveys and one-on-one interviews. Oh, if only the research included more people and a broader array of demographic groups! Also, it would have been helpful to learn the average number of friends per person surveyed, and how big the largest ones were.

About one in ten of the students said that Facebook made them feel anxious. And 32 percent said declining friend requests caused feelings of guilt and discomfort. Perhaps because of this prospect, one in ten of the survey respondents said they disliked receiving friend requests in the first place, while 63 percent said they delayed responding to these requests.

Lead researcher Dr. Kathy Charles told the U. K. Press Association:

The results threw up a number of paradoxes. For instance, although there is great pressure to be on Facebook there is also considerable ambivalence amongst users about its benefits. And we found it was actually those with the most contacts, those who had invested the most time in the site, who were the ones most likely to be stressed…It’s like being a mini news channel about yourself. The more people you have the more you feel there is an audience there. You are almost a mini celebrity and the bigger the audience the more pressure you feel to produce something about yourself… But many also told us they were anxious about withdrawing from the site for fear of missing important social information or offending contacts. 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.

Do you think stressing out about Facebook might be limited to college students?

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