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How Facebook and Twitter make you pay the ‘cost of caring’

Published Jan 16th, 2015 6:50AM EST
Facebook vs. Stress

A new study from the Pew Research Center found that using social networks including Facebook, Twitter and others, as well as other means of digitally sharing experiences, isn’t as stressful as some claimed in the past. But the overall social networking experience may become an invisible burden for many, who unknowingly pay the “cost of caring.”

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In other words, social networking users may have higher level of stress than they’d expect due to the close relationships they have inside those networks, and the way Facebook and other services work. The constant updates stream also brings details about unpleasant events in the lives of other people who are important to a user, in addition to all the silly cat videos one could watch.

Thus, regular social network users may not experience stress because they are actively using the service, but they may experience higher levels of stress once they become aware of stressful events in the lives of others.

Examples of stressful events that could increase stress levels in those people who find out about them from Facebook or other social networks include the death of a child, partner or spouse, hospitalization, serious injuries, police investigations and arrests, work-related troubles, and others. The study found that women are more likely to get stressed because of such news than men, although men also pay the cost of caring.

The study’s main conclusions are that “frequent Internet and social media users do not have higher levels of stress,” and that “there are circumstances under which the social use of digital technology increases awareness of stressful events in the lives of others.” The full study is available at the source link.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.