Facebook is actually ruining your life
HAVE you ever felt a bit bummed out after scrolling through Facebook?
Maybe you're overwhelmed by news and notifications. Maybe you're depressed to have missed out on something. Maybe you're anxious about the fact the carefully curated highlight reels of other people's lives seem sparklier than your own.
You're not alone.
A study from the United States claims to have proved something you've known all along: the more time you spend on Facebook, the worse you feel.
Facebook's homepage promises to help "connect and share with the people in your life" and almost two billion people use the platform every month.
However, research by Holly Shakya, from the University of California, and Nicholas Christakis, from Yale University, says interacting with the service can decrease a person's mental wellbeing by as much as eight per cent.
It's the first study to actually quantify the effect of Facebook on everyday life.
The average person spends an hour on Facebook every day.
According to research from Deloitte, many open it first thing in the morning - as soon as they turn off their mobile alarm - before they even get out of bed.
That means instead of starting the day with human interaction like saying good morning to your partner, your mother, or even the coffee guy, increasing numbers of people start their day interacting with a little plastic gadget.
Over the years, various studies have proven social media use can detract from face-to-face relationships, reduce participation in meaningful activities, increase sedentary behaviour and generally grind down a person's self-esteem.
"Self-comparison can be a strong influence on human behaviour, and because people tend to display the most positive aspects of their lives on social media, it is possible for an individual to believe their own life compares negatively to what they see presented by others," the authors wrote in the Harvard Business Review.
"But some sceptics have wondered if perhaps people with lower wellbeing are more likely to use social media, rather than social media causing lower wellbeing."
They recruited 5208 adults representative of the population of the United States, and monitored their interactions with Facebook over two years.
The study measured the number of links people clicked, statuses updated and posts liked, and also tracked things like life satisfaction, self-reported mental and physical health, and body mass index.
"Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall wellbeing, the use of Facebook negatively associated with overall wellbeing. These results were particularly strong for mental health," they wrote.
"We found consistently that both liking others' content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health and life satisfaction."
Digital relationships are increasingly common, and many people interact with family, friends and even lovers more frequently online than in real life.
However, the researchers warn there's a trade-off between offline and online relationships - and the little chunk of circuitry in your hands will never replace actual human interaction.
News.com.au has contacted Facebook for comment.