Is Facebook making you physically ill (as well as damaging your mental health)?

Is Mark Zuckerberg’s social network making you ill? (Getty)
Is Mark Zuckerberg’s social network making you ill? (Getty)

Facebook’s damaging effects on mental health have been widely reported in a series of studies – but could the social network be making us physically ill, too?

Researchers found that people who spent time looking at other people’s Facebook profiles, felt real physical symptoms as sleep problems, weight change and muscle tension.

Researchers interviewed 165 Facebook users, and found that people who were inclined to compare themselves to others felt more aware of physical ailments.

It’s not that Facebook actually causes the symptoms in other words, but comparing onself to others perceived as ‘better off’ causes increased awareness of symptoms.

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Dr Bridget Dibb, Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of Surrey, said, ‘Comparing ourselves to others is not a new concept; however, with the rise of social media it is becoming a part of our everyday lives.

‘An entity like Facebook, with 2.27 billion active monthly users, has never existed before. The long term effect it has on individuals is unknown, but it is clear that comparison with others is associated with perceptions of ill-health.

‘Users need to be aware of how they feel when they use sites like Facebook and recognise the dangers of comparisons in this context.’