Facebook depresses you? You're not alone

Are you an ardent Facebook user, checking the social networking site several times a day just to check out what happy things your friends are posting? Chances are that you could either already be depressed or could be well on your way.

According to new research, too much use of Facebook can lead to symptoms of depression and the social networking site triggers feelings of envy among its users.

The study published by researchers at the University of Missouri based on a survey of more than 700 college students, notes that too much of Facebook usage results in what they termed as “Facebook envy” and depression.

Many of the students surveyed showed symptoms of depression as a result of feeling envious of friends’ Facebook status updates.

Margaret Duffy, a professor and chair of strategic communication at the MU School of Journalism, says that how Facebook users use the site makes a difference in how they respond to it.

“Facebook can be a fun and healthy activity if users take advantage of the site to stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives,” Duffy said.

“However, if Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship—things that cause envy among users—use of the site can lead to feelings of depression,” she adds.

According to her, Facebook users who experience envy of the activities and lifestyles of their friends on Facebook are much more likely to report feelings of depression.

“Facebook can be a very positive resource for many people, but if it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect. It is important for Facebook users to be aware of these risks so they can avoid this kind of behaviour when using Facebook.”

This comes even as Facebook CEO on Monday urged telecom operators to offer free data and said that Facebook is one of the primary apps that people want to use.

 “We can help because Facebook is one of the primary apps people want to use, so therefore it drives data usage and means we can effectively partner with operators in order to accelerate the growth of their businesses.”

Zuckerberg who is in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress reached out to the telecom operators across the world and called them on to help reach out to the offline population.

The internet.org<https://internet.org> is a Facebook-led initiative bringing together technology leaders, non-profits and local communities to connect the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have internet access.

Over the last year alone Facebook says the initiative helped connect nearly 7 million people who used mobile data for the first time.
“In countries where we’ve launched the Internet.org app, the rate of acquisition of new data customers for operators increased by at least 40 per cent.

Most of the action has been happening in the developing markets. The number of people using data on Tigo’s network in Colombia increased by 50 per cent, and in Tanzania, Tigo’s monthly smartphone sales grew by ten times since the launch of Internet.org, said Zuckerberg.

On Monday Zuckerberg tried to allay the fears of some telecom operators who perceive the Internet.org initiative as a threat. “The reason why we’re here in Barcelona is because the folks who are here, who are part of this industry, are the ones leading the charge to connect everyone in the world and have been for decades. There’s a long legacy and history and sense of mission in the industry. And that’s why these folks are doing all the work to lay the fibre and build the towers to actually get this done,” he said.

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