Education & Family

Facebook lurking makes you miserable, says study

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Image caption Spending too long on social media can mean a "deterioration of mood"

Too much Facebook browsing at Christmas - and seeing all those "perfect" families and holiday photos - is more likely to make you miserable than festive, research suggests.

A University of Copenhagen study suggests excessive use of social media can create feelings of envy.

It particularly warns about the negative impact of "lurking" on social media without connecting with anyone.

The study suggests taking a break from using social media.

The study of more than 1,000 participants, mostly women, says that "regular use of social networking such as Facebook can negatively affect your emotional well-being and satisfaction with life".

'Unrealistic social comparisons'

Researchers warn of envy and a "deterioration of mood" from spending too long looking at other people's social media stories, induced by "unrealistic social comparisons".

If this suggests a picture of long irritable hours over a screen, depressed by the boasts and posts of others, then the researchers say that it does not need to be this way.

Actively engaging in conversation and connecting with people on social media seems to be a much more positive experience, suggests the study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking.

This seems to be much less gloomy than "passive" users who spend too long "lurking" on social networking websites without getting involved.

Another approach to improve well-being, says the study, is to stop using social media altogether for a week.

That's if you can resist the temptation to look at all those unbearably smug pictures of skiing holidays...