While it might be tempting to check your social media over the festive season, researchers are warning that too much Facebook browsing at Christmas could make you miserable.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen say that seeing lots of perfect family images and holiday images could create feelings of envy, making it more difficult to appreciate your own festive celebrations.
They particularly warn about the negative impact of simply lurking on social media, and looking at what other people are doing and saying, without actually connecting with anyone or posting anything yourself.
Study authors are suggesting taking a complete break from the use of social media over Christmas. The research looked at more than 1,000 people, mostly female, finding that regular use of social networking, including Facebook, could have a negative impact on emotional well-being and life satisfaction.
They warn that spending too long looking at other people’s social media could lead to mood deterioration. They also point out that social media posts are unrealistic, given that many people only post the highlights of their lives, and not the day to day reality.
The study participants were divided into two groups, with one continuing to use social media as usual, and the second group not using Facebook at all for a week. Those who switched off from social media, reported much better feelings of well being.
However, the research team said that social media use could be turned into a positive experience, by not just passively watching, but engaging in conversation and making connections.
The study, which has been published in the respected Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking journal. Researchers are advising people either to stop using social media altogether for a week during the festive season, or to make sure they get involved in posting, commenting and connecting.
Perhaps then, it’s time to get those board games out and have a more traditional Christmas with friends and family.