A handful of studies confirm what you likely already suspected: Your Facebook habit is hurting you in more ways than one.
How many times do you check Facebook a day? And what are your motivations for doing so? Are you bored? Don’t have enough to do?
If you have a hard time coming up with good answers, here are some things to think about.
How soon after you get to work do you log in to Facebook?
Researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have found that logging into Facebook is the first thing 70 percent of people do when they turn on their computers and that doing so can turn into an addiction.
According to the report:
Women are generally more active than men on Facebook. On average, women spend 81 minutes per day Facebooking, whereas men spend 64 minutes. Users with low income and low education use Facebook more than other groups. Within these groups, users who spend more time on Facebook also report feeling less happy and less content with their lives.
It’s depressing, and depressed people are less productive.
Another study conducted by Humboldt University and Technical University in Darmstadt, Germany, found that seeing pictures of vacations and hearing about other people’s love and work successes makes people jealous, miserable, and lonely.
“The researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most,” reports The Chicago Tribune.
Researchers determined that vacation photos fostered the most resentment, followed by social interaction in which people look at how many birthday greetings, likes, or comments they get compared with others.
It can make you eat crap.
If you struggle with weight gain because of eating at your desk you might want to stave off Facebook until a time when you’re not tempted to snack.
A study (PDF) conducted by Andrew Stephen of the University of Pittsburgh and Keith Wilcox of Columbia University in New York found that people who use Facebook to interact with close friends and family actually get a bump in self-esteem for doing so. Unfortunately, with that benefit comes a decrease in self-control which makes people “more likely to make an unhealthy food choice compared to those who did not browse Facebook.”
It can be used to spy on you.
If you care about privacy this one is reason you might want to dump Facebook altogether–maybe even all social media. The Guardian got its hands on a video in which defense contractor Raytheon demonstrates its Rapid Information Overlay Technology (Riot) system, which mines Facebook and other social media sites to pull things such as social network check-ins and even the meta data in photos people take with their smartphones. The system can figure out where you go, what you look like, determine the things and people you’re associated with, and even predict future behavior. “Person of Interest” technology is real.
“Raytheon says it has not sold the software… to any clients. But the Massachusetts-based company has acknowledged the technology was shared with U.S. government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security system capable of analysing ‘trillions of entities’ from cyberspace,” The Guardian reports.
It’s an excuse to procrastinate.
Give some people a big work assignment and guess where you’ll likely find them? Checking Facebook and Twitter, shopping online, and the like. You know that blissful feeling of successfully completing a daunting project? If you stay away from Facebook and other online lures you’ll arrive there faster.