Social media, on its own, probably doesn't explain why you're stressed out, according to a study released today by the Pew Research Center.
The research, which is based on a survey of 1,801 American adults, showed that people who didn't use social media did not, in general, feel less stressed than people who did. In fact, a certain level of email, Twitter and mobile photo sharing was linked to less stress, at least among female respondents.
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Rutgers University associate professor of communications Keith Hampton said that the relationship between social media and stress was perhaps more complicated than some media narratives suppose.
"There is a great deal of speculation that social media users feel extra pressure to participate and keep up on social media, to avoid the fear of missing out' in activities that others share," he said in a statement. "But it turns out social media users don't feel any more stress in everyday life than non-users or those who only lightly use digital technologies."
In some cases, however, social media was conditionally linked to higher levels of stress, mostly due to what the researchers referred to as "cost of caring" effects. Facebook in particular, and social media in general, tends to make users, especially women, more aware of stressful events happening in the lives of their friends and family that increased awareness tends to prove stressful.
Women on Facebook were 13% more likely to be aware of stressful events happening to close family or friends, when compared to non-Facebook-using women. Among men, that number was 8%.
What's more, the women surveyed reported feeling stress based on a wider range of events than the men did. Four different types of events were found to be predictors of stress among women, compared to just two for men.