Why You Should Take a Facebook Vacation (Beyond the Privacy Scandal)

The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal is not the only reason to consider dumping your Facebook account. According to new research published in the Journal of Social Psychology, the social media site may also be affecting your stress levels and stress hormone levels.

Most of us have either taken an extended holiday, or know someone who has taken and extended break, from Facebook. Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, set to work to determine whether there were any health effects of cutting oneself off from social networks. They investigated 138 active Facebook users were divided into groups that continued to use Facebook or take a break from the site for five days. Perceived stress and wellbeing were assessed, and cortisol—a hormone that tends to spike as a result of stress—was monitored using saliva cortisol testing before and after the test period.

Those who abstained from Facebook for five days had lower cortisol levels, lower perceived stress and higher rankings of life satisfaction. The researchers concluded that regular Facebook users may find the large amount of social information on the site taxing and stressful. They added that extended Facebook vacations could reduce the stress, at least in the short-term.

Social media networks are still a relatively new phenomenon so we don’t know exactly what the personal or collective results of their ongoing use may be. In addition to general stress levels being higher as a result of using Facebook, other research has also found a link between Facebook use and a higher risk of eating disorders and body image issues. Published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers found that increased social media use such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest (among others) is linked to eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating as well as negative body image issues among adults aged 19 to 32, which is likely the largest group of social media users.

In an interview, the researchers indicated that there are likely two main reasons why social media use may increase the risk of an eating disorder and negative body image: 1) the portrayal of thin models and celebrities; and 2) the interaction of social media users and tendency to propagate stereotypes. Those with the highest social media use reported having a negative body image or an eating disorder more than twice as often as those who didn’t use social media as often.

Said lead author of the study, Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD, “It could be that young adults who use more social media are exposed to more images and messages that encourage development of disordered eating.” The cause and effect are not completely clear though: are people more likely to develop an eating disorder because they spend more time on social media or are people with negative body images and an eating disorder more likely to turn to social media in an effort to connect with others with the same issues? I suspect that both are likely.

Regardless, the results of the newest Facebook-stress study suggest that we might all periodically benefit from Facebook or social media vacations for at least five days at a time. Just today, I came across so much bad news, ridiculous images of celebrities and models who probably don’t even measure up to their own digitally- and makeup-enhanced images that it sounds to me like a social media vacation might be just what the doctored ordered.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Life Force Diet: 3 Weeks to Supercharge Your Health with Enzyme-Rich Foods.

70 comments

Ann B
Ann B3 months ago

please flg past member they are a spammer

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natasha p
Past Member 4 months ago

care 2 is on facebook lol

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R4 months ago

I've never been tempted to fry my brain on Facebook....

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Dennis H
Dennis Hall5 months ago

Thanks

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Marija M
Marija M5 months ago

You are right Melanie, so Facebook is not something I use...

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Melania P
Melania Padilla5 months ago

We all need a break from social media once in a while; a break from certain people, etc.

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Amanda M
Amanda M5 months ago

I don't have a Facebook page or any other social media account besides here on Care2, and I've never WANTED a Facebook page! The last thing I need is more hackers invading my inalienable right to Privacy!

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Jessica K
Jessica K5 months ago

Most media have these issues. Use with caution and with your wits about you. Thanks.

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Janis K
Janis K5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Amanda McConnell
Amanda M5 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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