The Pew Institute estimated that in 2010 more than 70 percent of young adults in the United States use Facebook. According to a study published in “Information, Communication & Society,” the study concluded that use of Facebook did not affect academic performance among college freshman.
Facebook is a valuable tool for people to keep in contact with others, but there are drawbacks to the site. Although it is a quick way to communicate, it has decreased incidence of in-person interaction, which can lead to psychological issues.
Mark Huttemier, a counselor at UW–River Falls, gave insight into ways Facebook is positive, such as making arrangements for in-person contact. He also said there are negative psychological issues that arise from using the website.
“I would say the major drawback would be social isolation which leads to depression,” said Huttemeir.
People substitute Internet communication for in-person contact. Although in-person contact is still practiced, with the increase in Internet communication some people have little time to meet in person.
“I love you. Don’t bother me,” said Huttemeir.
As well as isolation, keeping in contact with people through words on a computer screen leads to a lack of accountability of actions and words.
“I think accountability goes down. And the reason is that there are less ramification for what you say. You’re not as tuned into the immediate reactions you put across,” said Huttemeir.
Lack of accountability can lead to cyber bullying.
“There are no emotional ramifications to what people write and therefore, there is a lack of empathy,” said Huttemeir.
There is a domino effect: increase in communication through Facebook decreases in-person contact and lack of in-person contact can lead to depression. Oxytocin, or “the cuddle hormone,” is released when people interact with one another in person; that in-person contact is needed for people to be healthy.
Facebook can have its benefits, but there are also ways it can be harmful.