Stress Arrives With More Facebook Friends: Study

First Posted: Nov 27, 2012 06:01 AM EST

The number of Facebook friends is indicative of your popularity or just another source of 'stress'?

A team from the University of Edinburgh's Business School has found that the greatest amount of stress comes from users trying not to offend their online contacts. In particular, adding employers or parents results in a spike in anxiety.

For this study the researchers surveyed more than 300 people on Facebook, mostly students, with an average age of 21.

The researchers noticed that stress levels went up when the user presented a version of oneself on Facebook that was unacceptable to some of the online 'friends.'

The unacceptable posts included swearing, recklessness, drinking and smoking. This issue swelled when older people joined the site because their expectations were very different from those of younger users.

Nearly 55 percent of parents followed their children on Facebook. Likewise, more than half of employers claimed not to have hired someone based on their Facebook page.

On conducting this study the researchers noticed that on an average people were Facebook friends with seven different social circles. This consisted of friends known online that added up to 97 percent, followed by 81 percent of extended family, 80 percent siblings, 69 percent friends of friends and 65 percent colleagues.

The report also discovered that more people were Facebook friends with their former partners than with their current relationship partner.

Only 56 percent of users were friends with their boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse online, compared with 64 percent of exes.

The option of listing privacy offered by Facebook, which can be used to control the information seen by different types of friends was utilized by only one-third of users.

Ben Marder, author of the report and early career fellow in marketing at the Business School, said: "Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance, drink and flirt. But now with your Mum, Dad and boss there the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines."

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