Well Being

How Facebook Affects Your Self Esteem — And Your Weight

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Do you find yourself obsessively checking your newsfeed, posting photos of everything you do and “checking in” at all the places you visit? Being on Facebook all the time can affect how you see yourself, according to a new study. In fact, it can raise your self confidence! Sounds great for folks who normally have confidence issues, sure, but there's unfortunately a whole other monster to contend with after the fact.

The study, which comes from the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia Business School and published in the Journal of Consumer Research, showed results that were positive regarding respondents' self esteem after Facebook use. However, it also revealed that the sudden burst of newfound confidence people can lead to a big decrease in self control, and that drop demonstrated negative effects like an increase in credit card debt and body mass index.

In their first and second experiment for the paper, researchers had respondents fill out surveys asking questions about their self esteem. They found that those who experienced the increased confidence were ones who had strong connections to their social network of friends and it occurred only when they were sharing information (as opposed to commenting or responding to other information).

The third and forth studies demonstrated what the researchers consider a link between the decrease in self control and increase in how positively people saw themselves. Participants were either told to check Facebook or read CNN articles online. They were then asked to choose between a granola bar or a chocolate chip cookie (apparently researchers didn't get the memo that granola bars can also be pretty terrible for you). The ones who checked Facebook chose the cookie more often, while CNN readers opted for the granola bar. For the fourth one, people were either told to look at TMZ or Facebook. They were then told to solve an anagram word puzzle, which the ones who browsed Facebook gave up on faster.

For their last experiment, researchers requested information from participants that included their height, weight and level of credit hard debt. According to their report, the “greater social network use is associated with a higher body-mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit-card debt for individuals with strong ties to their social network.”

While I don't think that Facebook is the worst thing in the world, I definitely believe that the Internet has a great deal of effect on how we see ourselves, how we see others and what we choose to do with our non-Internet rest of the day. The more research done on topics like this, the more likely we are to figure out just what the major and minor Facebook effects are.

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