Contrary to popular belief, it appears Facebook could have a positive effect on our wellbeing. Up until now studies have only pointed out the flaws in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, claiming they make us paranoid and lonely. New research has contradicted this and says, if used the right way, social networking can make us happier.
The key factor in finding happiness through Facebook appears to lie in reminiscing and looking through old pictures of yourself. Instead of looking and pining over other people’s lives, looking back at times when you were at your happiest can be reassuring.
Of the 144 Facebook users polled in the research, 90% use the site to check their wall posts and three quarters admit they use it to look at old pictures of themselves when they’re feeling low.
According to research leader Dr. Alice Good (from the University of Portsmouth) this is a form of ‘self-soothing’. She believes this research shines a more positive light on social networking, suggesting that looking back and reminiscing is comforting for people.
The survey also discovered that those who have experienced any mental health issues are even more comforted by the site. Psychologist Dr. Clare Wilson has said:
“Although this is a pilot study, these findings are fascinating. It’s also handy that you can access Facebook from wherever you are on your mobile phone, making it a discreet and useful method to cheer yourself up. Facebook is marketed as a means of communicating with others. Yet this research shows we are more likely to use it to connect with our past selves, perhaps when our present selves need reassuring.”
Looking through past photos is already used within a form of treatment called reminiscent therapy. The key is not to over do it and not to compare yourself or your photos with anyone else. So next time you are feeling a little low, don’t be afraid to look back and reminisce about happier times.
While some elements of Facebook may have a positive effect on us, there are still some negative side-effects social sites and the Internet can have – including Internet addiction. If you think you are spending too much time and effort on your social networking sites, it may benefit you to see a hypnotherapist. To find out more, please see our page on Internet Addiction.
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