I'd like to see similar study about the original gateway drug: "24-hour News Channels", which was followed by "24-hour Outrage-News Channels". Seems like we've been building toward this, the interactivity of the internet was the paradigm shift (to use a 90's term). EDIT: I realize it isn't news messing with youths' self-esteem (well, in some cases it is), but it is related in that the media is custom-made to drive engagement at all costs.
As with all studies in the social sciences, one of two principles apply.

First, if the conclusions are counterintuitive or unexpected, then when you look closer, you will find that the methodology is garbage and that it does not support the conclusions given.

Second, if the conclusions reflect things that you believe are true, when you look closer, you will find that the methodology is garbage and that it does not support the conclusions given.

I took a long break (maybe 5 years or so) but I have recently started using both FB and Instagram and have been surprised at how positive my time has been on these platforms. On FB I have been finding interesting local groups and events (just moved to a new city) and on Instagram, I have been enjoying seeing updates from real friends.

On the other hand I recently deleted Twitter from my phone. I love twitter for getting interesting infromation and staying up to date with news, but the whole culture there has just turned into cheap dunking on one another, and its just guaranteed to leave you feeling angry about something. Extremely disruptive to mental state.

I spend some time on the TikTok-like products as well (youtube shorts / fb reels) and have found them to be just a really easy way to completely waste an hour for no reason whatsoever. Less disruptive to mental state than twitter though.

I do not care for this trend of omitting the publication date from news articles. Temporal context is very relevant in news articles, especially to assess whether the information has been superseded.

(I know, one can often find the publication date in the HTML source, but that requires savvy, and should not be necessary.)

I'm pleased to see the word "causation" reappear along with the word "science".

But I'm disappointed to see the word "proven". It isn't proven, and there are a number of problems.

One is that the hypothesis is never really tested, this is just more data analysis. I don't want to split hairs over the definition of "science" but if you don't have an experiment where you intervene in the real world and dispassionately record what happens, then it's probably not science.

The scientific method is a causation-finding machine intended to avoid all of the errors that humans are likely to make. Perhaps that leads to too few exciting results, so now we have a bunch of "scientific studies" instead.

I wonder how people continue to work at Facebook. I know they tend to have the highest salaries from the FAANG groups, but still. We, as engineers and builders, have the responsibility to think critically about how the things we are working on will be used.
Today I disabled Facebook and Instagram. I also removed all shortlinks to various newssites. I want to avoid them as well. Including Reddit . The only thing I am allowed to read is hackernews. I find that one of the few good sources. Even for general news.
Is the research design capable of distinguishing from the opposite causation here; what if people who are more depressed are more likely to use facebook more?

This occurred to me because I more and more think of social media use in terms of addiction. For more typical addictive behavior with drugs, we are more likely to think people who are depressed are more likely to develop addictive relationship to alcohol (or other drugs), than we are to think using alcohol (or other drugs) too much will makes you depressed. Although I suppose it can be somewhat circular and complex.

IDK... I know Facebook feeds are different for each person but for me there are basically zero posts from people I know on Facebook anymore, it's just ads and videos of random TikTok style videos.
This was studying Facebook circa 2004-2006. That version of Facebook was laughably basic at that point. If I remember right it was a chronological list of posts on your wall. There was no algorithmic feed. Hell, the news feed at all was only launched in late 2006. There was no video. There were no ads. Nobody made content hoping to get rich and outrage didn’t sell. If only we could go back to such an innocent time.
> They found a statistically significant worsening in mental health symptoms, especially depression and anxiety, after the arrival of Facebook:

7% increase in number of students who reported having suffering, at least once during the preceding year, depression so severe that it was difficult for them to function

20% increase in number of students who reported anxiety disorders

2% increase in number of students expected to experience moderate to severe depression

3% increase in number of students experienced impairment to their academic performance due to depression or anxiety

Who needed a study? We've known this for years, and it was even speculated at the dawn of Friendster, MySpace, etc. Watching a society (the US, for example) slowly say "social media is bad" then continue to use it is like watching a stumbling drunk declare their ability to quit drinking anytime they want.
From all my digital addictions, FB is the one I have most under control.

I have to do a lot of blocking but the reality is that I can now say I do enjoy Facebook.

My timeline is filled with content I meticulously have curated:Woodworking, Baking, Canoeing, Startups, Beekeeping, Jeeps.

But... it shouldn't take all this work to enjoy it.

We shouldn't encourage this type of reporting of academic results.

A better headline: "Evidence towards causal relations between mental health issues and Facebook use for some College students in 2004". If this doesn't look newsworthy, it's because it isn't. Single academic result is almost never newsworthy.

Consider your attention.

You pay attention. Concentrate your attention. Occasionally have your attention jerked around by distractions.

Consider what you do when you think, read, watch tv, consume facebook. Consider what you are doing with your attention. That shape.

If you do it a lot then that shape intensifies.

And that shape sticks. It becomes your normal.

And the shape of your attention dictates your reality.

It's important to take that into account.

I don't understand why this is causation vs correlation?
I'm starting to suspect HN to have the same effect, the more I read HN the more unmotivated I feel.

Unfavorable comparisons with "successful" people/projects who make it to the front page could be behind the same effects.

Social media will be the smoking of our generation.

In a century, they’ll wonder how we could possibly have kept engaging knowing the harm we were doing to ourselves.

Not just FB, LinkedIn has a similar effect, just on a different demographic.
The study uses historical data, change in mental health before and after Facebook was introduced to a campus. Which is a very cool way to make use of a natural control. Nice study.

Seems clear facebook had negative impact on mental health on campus.

Facebook then was also likely very different from Facebook now. So not exactly sure what recommendations for today can be drawn from it.

It's interesting to note that the data shows facebook was damaging mental health at the same time that many readers of this comment were most enthusiastic about Facebook.

Anecdotally, Facebook seems relatively tame these days compared to the firehose of doom & gloom, violent videos, outrage porn, and outright misinformation that fills Reddit and Twitter. Browsing Reddit’s default feeds or popular posts is a wild experience these days.
Facebook was just the beginning. It feels crude almost in comparison to the new generation of designer drugs (TikTok et. al).
Idk about Facebook specifically but it seems the old wisdom of not discussing religion, politics and diet is more relevant than ever. We have added more topics to the list: controversial medical procedures, celebrity drama, conspiracy theories etc.

I stopped using social media for many years, recently came back to have access to local cycling/running groups and my experience is largely positive. All I see is cool people doing cool things, fun events, some local cycling related trade etc. I managed to make some connections and keep them going thanks to social media it's just positive experience all around.

I think Instagram can be like that if you filter out politics/celebrities and "I have money/am attractive" influencers. It takes some work for that to stop showing in your feed and to learn to ignore whatever is left though.

As critical as I am about Facebook and social media in general -- I doubt this has been "proven".
As a manager of a large page (several million reach per day), I often feel uncomfortable. On the one hand, Facebook is the best platform to reach many people. On the other hand, I think it is unethical to encourage people to stay on the platform. I also think that if I were to close the page, the void would be filled by the next person.

My ego tells me that since I'm aware of these problems, I can do my best to keep my page from turning into a doomscrolling experience. Yet, once again, the algorithm doesn't display my posts in their natural order, only the controversial ones, so the doomscrolling happens anyway.

I often keep up at night to think about it and I feel like there is no good answer.

The interesting question is whether FB/Meta have continued to expand/promote features while knowing the potential negative effects on mental health they can have.

I'd also be curious to know if there's a subgroup of users whose mental health is improved by use of FB - certainly I'd suggest I had that experience personally, at a particularly low point in my life, having met somebody via FB that helped me through it (which was mutual btw, in fact they had more serious mental health issues than I did).

Sure, and alcohol, soda, candy, processed foods negatively affect physical health. People “know” this but obviously think the satisfaction they get from it is worth the negative impacts.
Once it becomes more widely accepted just how bad the continual dopamine drip of (especially mobile) social media is for individuals and society, it would be very interesting to find some research into the gender differences. My wife has a theory that, for a variety of reasons, women are more drawn into the online social world than men.
This just in, food is also misused and proven to cause ill health in the majority of people, stop eating food now.
Breaking news: Water is wet. Facebook is fucked.

In all seriousness though glad to see this is actually being seriously studied

Does anyone still use facebook? I mean, I'm 45 and just my mom uses it.

Are they sure the mental health impact is not just senility?


I started checking Facebook only on the computer and only when it organically comes up in my daily browsing (like now!). As it happens, I check Facebook about 3-4 times a week now, and it's basically just to Mark as Read my notifications (which are largely useless).
This is an Israeli study from Tel Aviv university. I live here and the entire country is hopelessly reliant on using Facebook for everything from community to renting apartments.. Makes me sick that I need to have an account to live here
I think it depend on the user's mind. If you like the right way to use it will be good thing if you are using it for the time pass then its not good thing. So, the thing is its depend on the user's mind set
We have been collecting such articles since 2010:

You can see a lot of information

After being off Facebook for a few years, I have started to clearly see how creepy people really are - it's like everyone has turned into low level stalkers, but somehow that is okay within the cult.
Link to the working paper is here:

Facebook has proven to be the best way for me to keep in touch with people who I grew up with, or worked with. It has proven to have a positive impact on my mental health.
Common knowledge. I merely query the need some people have to see a hyperlink to some such study before they will admit to what they already know.
Haven't you all read something like this a dozen times since 2011 or 2012? I thought the consensus was already 10 years ago.
This brings up a bigger question that spans all media, which is: Why are people willing to give away their attention so easily?
Social networks should put up warning signs and only accept 18+ users, just like cigarettes.
I have to seriously ask: Is this actually a surprise to anyone?
Off Facebook for more than five years ... and still not mentally healthy. I feel cheated.
For me I just felt uncomfortable not being able to just pick what I wanted to see...
Bears proven to shit in woods.
Now do a study for Hacker News
The ship has sailed. They could pay me to come back and that still wouldn't be a good enough excuse to waste my time there. All they had to do was keep facebook positive but between the shockingly bad products they advertise and right wing maniacs, it might as well be the cesspool of the internet. It would take an act of god to turn it around at this point.
No date on the article?
Cool, now do Twitter.
ditched the Zuck long ago. failed service
Water is wet
... again?
I don’t get why Facebook is so often singled out in these types of studies. What about other activities like dating or school or going to church? I bet those can be shown to increase anxiety and be bad for mental health