Active use of Facebook and Twitter can relieve stress, at least among women, according to a new research done by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The new findings are in contrast to the widely accepted belief that being connected to the social networking sites constantly makes people unhappy.
Surprising revelation from the research
The study found that stress levels were 21% lower in women with higher than “average” social media use, such as on Facebook and Twitter. Average social use has been defined in the study as a person who visits Twitter a few times a day, checks Facebook a few times per day, shares some pictures and gets around 25 emails per day.
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The researchers were themselves surprised with the finding, as initially they assumed that their study would underline the previously established fact that being connected to the social media leads to higher stress levels overall. According to Lee Rainie, the research group’s director, they were hoping the result to be in line with the common belief, but it was different from what they previously thought.
The study was conducted on 1,800 American adults in fall 2013, collecting information about their social media use and their overall level of technology use and asking various questions to measure participants’ stress levels.
According to Keith N. Hampton, a Rutgers University communications professor and the paper’s lead author, social media offers “supportive exchange.” Put in simple words, people feel less stressed because they can communicate with friends and family, feeling the support of the community. According to Hampton, women are more inclined toward maintaining the household’s family relationships. Therefore, social media technology actually helps them fulfill those tasks in a better way.
The study also found that women are more active sharers compared to men on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. “Whether you share positive or negative events, sharing results in lowered levels of stress,” Hampton said. Everyone may not want to see the posts and shares all the time, but posting is essential for women to reduce stress.
Social media users are more aware of their friends’ life events than a non-social media users, and in general, women are more likely to be aware of such matters than men. Therefore, when a friend or family member shares good or even neutral news, then a woman who is active on social media gets lowered stress benefits.