Research found out that having 300 Facebook friends or more causes an increased level of cortisol in teenagers leading to depression.
In new research led by Professor Sonia Lupien, researchers from the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal and the University of Montreal, it was found out that having over 300 'friends' on Facebook causes stress in teenagers.
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The study consisted of 88 teenage participants aged 12 to 17 years old. The participants each answered a questionnaire detailing their Facebook activities. The questionnaire evaluated data involved with their frequency of usage, number of Facebook friends, level of self-promoting behavior and level of encouraging behavior they extend to friends in social media. The team also collected the cortisol samples of the participants four times a day.
The cortisol levels are not entirely explainable by the social media sites but they are said to be a cause among other factors. Lead researcher Lupien said that cortisol level increase was also due to some external factors but the study was able to show that adolescents showed higher cortisol levels when they had beyond 300 Facebook friends. This fact also predicted that those who have 1,000 or 2,000 friends on Facebook may be subjected to even greater stress.
At the time of Lupien's study, the researchers did not measure the teenager's risks in developing depression. Past studies have shown that young adults with high cortisol levels do not manifest symptoms of onset depression immediately and could take as long as 11 years. The researchers wrote the study will serve as preliminary proof that social media behaviours have links with daytime cortisol concentrations among teenagers.
The brighter side of the study showed there is a decrease in cortisol levels among teens who use the site with an encouraging or positive behavior manifested in the form of sending positive comments and message and hitting the like button.
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The findings of Lupien and his team were released in the Psychoneuroendocrinology journal, the official journal of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology.