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Is frequent use of Facebook bad for your health?

Brad Berens, Chief Strategy Officer. Center for Digital Future: Facebook needs a Surgeon General’s warning – “The social media giant has changed its Newsfeed product to emphasize meaningful interactions, but different experiences on Facebook won’t make its users any happier. It’s hard to decide whether Facebook is more like beer, doughnuts or tobacco, but whichever comparison you prefer, there’s no doubt that Facebook is bad for you: recent research shows convincingly that as your Facebook use goes up your mental and physical health go down. (I’ll did into the research on this a little later.) That’s what makes Facebook’s claims around recent changes to its Newsfeed product infuriating: the company argues that when Facebook hurts people’s health and sense of well-being, it’s not because of how much time they are spending on Facebook (a quantitative argument); instead, it’s because they aren’t looking at the right things on Facebook (a qualitative argument). This is like saying, “is eating too much chocolate ice cream is making you fat, giving you heart disease, and shortening your life? The answer is obvious: switch to vanilla ice cream!”

“The problem is not about what you use Facebook to do, it’s how much you use Facebook. In an article for the American Journal of Epidemiology, the authors wrote, “We found that using Facebook was associated with lower life satisfaction, whereas having real-life friends and interacting with them was associated with higher life satisfaction.”

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