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Pull the plug – disconnecting from Facebook reduces stress levels

Posted March 29, 2018

Social networks are watching you. They know what you like, what you don‘t like, where you shop, what you buy and so on. They are quite literally spying on you. People are increasingly concerned about their privacy and they should be. Various methods of protecting your personal data on Facebook are available and you should totally research them, but scientists from the University of Queensland say that you should not just protect you data – you should quit Facebook.

Quitting Facebook for at least several days will reduce your stress levels. It will also help you protect your privacy. Image credit: Wikimedia

Sometimes a break from Facebook may be good for you. There is a lot of pressure from social networks. People are showing off their success and expensive purchases and travels, while making you feel worse about yourself. You know it is not real, but scientists say that their experiments showed that quitting Facebook for at least five days reduced the level of stress hormone cortisol.  However, results were a bit two-faced – participants said that they cannot wait to get back on Facebook and that this short break reduced their well-being.

How can people be less happy with lower levels of cortisol? Well, scientists say that it could be because they felt isolated from their friends. Or it could be because the break was too short for them to become aware of their own stress levels. Either way, the simple fact that people think that their well-being is reduced by abstaining from Facebook shows how addictive social networks are. There were 138 participants in the study – half of them remained regular users of Facebook, while the other half quit this social network for 5 days. Cortisol levels were measured by analysing saliva samples. Interestingly, the very idea for this study came from the experience of the author Dr Vanman, who quit Facebook from time to time.

More and more people are having regular breaks from social networks when they become too stressful and overwhelming. In fact, some companies are organizing vacations during which you are not supposed to use any devices. It helps people combat stress and actually get some rest. Dr Eric Vanman, lead author of the study, said: “Facebook has become an essential social tool for millions of users and it obviously provides many benefits.  Yet, because it conveys so much social information about a large network of people, it can also be taxing”.

And so, more and more people are using Facebook in cycles. They quit for a while when it is too stressful and come back when they feel cut off from their friends. With the current privacy concerns it is likely that more people will simply leave, so it is interesting to see what changes Facebook is going to make.


Source: University of Queensland

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