Facebook friends cause stress and 'neurotic limbo'

Intensive Facebook users most affected by anxiety, say researchers...

Intensive Facebook users most affected by anxiety, say researchers...

Facebook popularity can be a source of anxiety and stress, according to research into the social networking site conducted by Edinburgh Napier University.

The study surveyed students who used Facebook and concluded that "for a significant number of users, the negative effects of Facebook outweigh the benefits of staying in touch with friends and family".

Researchers reported that those who invested the most amount of time in the site and who had the most contacts were the most likely to be stressed.

Rejecting friend requests on Facebook can lead to feelings of guilt and discomfort

Rejecting friend requests on Facebook can lead to "feelings of guilt and discomfort"
Image: Facebook

Dr Kathy Charles, who led the study, said the survey threw up a number of paradoxes. "For instance, although there is great pressure to be on Facebook, there is also considerable ambivalence among users about its benefits," she said in a statement.

Rejecting friend requests caused 32 per cent of respondents to feel guilty and 12 per cent said Facebook in general made them feel anxious. However, Charles said people are afraid to leave Facebook in case they forgo important social information.

"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," she said.

"The other responses we got in focus groups and one-to-one interviews suggest the survey figures actually under-represent aspects of stress and anxiety felt by some Facebook users, whether it's through feelings of exclusion, pressure to be entertaining, paranoia or envy of others' lifestyles."

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