Using social media can actually influence how depressed, happy, unsatisfied or fulfilled you are, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook. Researchers found that the more people interacted with their friends online, the less depressed they became, while those who used the Internet to connect with strangers or read articles about others reported lower levels of happiness.
Fifteen years ago, Herbert A. Simon Professor of Human-Computer Interaction Robert Kraut authored a study that found that the Internet negatively affected peoples' moods. In the current study, however, Kraut and CMU Ph.D. alumna Moira Burke found that the quality and extent of online interaction varies greatly among users, and this variation influences how users felt afterward. In fact, study participants reported feeling the same level of happiness from online interactions with family and close friends as they would have if they experienced an important life event, like a wedding or birth.
"What we found is fairly intuitive," the authors reported. "The Internet’s effect on your well-being depends on how you use it."
Story by Aisha Rashid (DC 2019)