Study Puts Facebook Under The Microscope


(CORDIS) — Facebook has changed the way we communicate. We use this social networking service to connect with friends and family, participate in games and catch up on daily news. But how long are we spending on Facebook every day? A new study from Sweden has found that 75 minutes is the average daily time commitment for Facebook users, with women spending around 81 minutes, and men about 64 minutes. The data also show that low-educated groups and low-income groups whose members spend more time on Facebook are less happy and less content with their lives.

Led by the University of Gothenburg, the study identified a significant link in women between the time spent on Facebook, and well-being. This was not the case for men.

Overall, 1 000 subjects were assessed in what researchers say was the biggest Facebook study ever. The data suggest that Facebook is a habit-forming activity, with 85% of the subjects saying Facebook has become a part of their lives on a daily basis. Nearly 50% of those polled said keeping abreast of latest development and events would not be as easy if Facebook was not a part of their lives. Around 25% said they would feel uncomfortable if they failed to log into Facebook on a regular basis.

‘The study teaches that Facebook is used as a tool for affiliating with friends and family, as well as a personal showcase, where users show their positive sides,’ the authors of the study write. ‘Herein lies also a danger. When Facebook users compare their own lives with others’ seemingly more successful careers and happy relationships, they may feel that their own lives are less successful in comparison.’

The average number of times people log on to Facebook each day is 6.1, and 70% log on when they boot up their computers. More than two thirds of young subjects use Facebook to pass the time, while 38% of the respondents reveal negative information on their status updates. Over 50% of the subjects use Facebook to broadcast information and knowledge.

‘Facebooking may become an unconscious habit,’ says Leif Denti, a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg and the leader of this study. ‘A majority of the respondents log in every time they start their web browser. This may even develop into an addiction.’

Of the male subjects, 33% said they provoke others on Facebook, against 20% of the women. Around 25% of those polled said they use Facebook to brag.

‘Facebook is a social tool that is clearly used to manage relationships with friends and family,’ says Mr Denti. ‘But users won’t write just anything – most of the content they share has something to do with major events, positive events and when feeling good. Only 38% write about negative emotions and events.’

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