Facebook suggests too much social media can be unhealthy

Following a number of high-profile reports, surveys and white papers identifying potential negative side effects of prolonged social media use, Facebook has posted the following message on its own official page saying that, like birthday cake, it's good, but too much may be bad for you.

"Birthday cakes are made for people to be together. They give friends a place to gather and celebrate. But too much cake probably isn't healthy. So birthday cake is a lot like Facebook." The message, which went live on November 4th, is seen as acceptance that too much of anything can be a bad thing and goes some way to addressing recent negative publicity of the site as a result of surveys and reports examining its impact on users.

The most recent figures detailing total time spent on the site, published in March 2012, before the site hit the 1-billion-user mark, state that 10.5 billion minutes a day are spent logged into the site via computer and don't disclose any data for mobile use. Since March, the site has stopped publishing figures for total minutes and has started to focus on other data such as number of likes (1.13 trillion) and friend connections (140.3 billion as of October).

Social media pitfalls

Over the past 12 months a number of studies have been published highlighting the potential pitfalls of overexposure to social media and to Facebook in particular, the most recent of which, by researchers at Columbia Business School and University of Pittsburgh, discovered that Facebook boosted self esteem while eroding users' decision-making process to the point where active users made poor dietary and financial choices.

Other studies, such as one conducted by psychologist Larry Rosen at California State University, Dominguez Hills in August 2011, found a connection between Facebook and poor exam results, as well as increased depression, anxiety, sleeping issues and stomach aches in teenagers.

The upside

Meanwhile, February 2012 study found that 85 percent of US adults who use social networks say people are mostly kind on those sites, and two out of three say they have had an experience online that made them feel good about themselves, while a report by the Pew Research Center published in May found that regular Facebook users were 43% more likely than other interent users and more than three times more likely than non-internet users to feel that most people can be trusted.

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