How does social media use impact stress?

A new survey done by Pew Research Center on 1,801 adults, asked participants about the extent “to which they felt their lives were stressful, using an established scale of stress called the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS).” The survey was based on 10 questions measured through PSS to determine the levels of stress participants had. The findings demonstrated that overall people who use social media do not have higher stress levels and in fact the study demonstrated that women who use “twitter, email and cell phone picture sharing report lower levels of stress.”

The study also found that increased awareness of stressful events in the lives of others is tied to higher levels of stress especially in women. It is termed “the cost of caring” and the study found that the stress is not connected to the frequency of use of social media but with more to the awareness of distressing events in others.  Learning about the massacre in Nigeria, or the attacks in Paris, has an impact those relating to it. In other words it is the content or knowledge gained, and not the way in which that knowledge is gained that actually causes stress. This might seem obvious but for decades people have wanted to blame technology for the additional stress in our lives.

The study also demonstrated that there are benefits from social media interaction. Those who use social media are more likely to have more friends, more trust in people and more support than those who do not use social media.  But when balanced with the additional stress caused by increased awareness the stress levels in those who use social media balance out with those who don’t.

However women tend to report more stress than men from social media use, but those who use it to communicate with others report less stress than women who do not use social media.

Women who use social media are much more aware and impacted by stressful events in the lives of others and
the number of undesirable events associated with stress is greater in women than men.

When it comes to men there is no difference in stress levels between men who use social media and those who don’t.

So what does this mean? Men collect and process information differently than women, they are not as impacted by learning that a friend is in a stressful situation, nor does sharing information reduce stress in them.  Women are impacted by stress in others and social media can relieve stress in women if they share with it.

I wonder what this knowledge might do in the way of developing new apps or to the strategies of campaigns targeting , what changes to political oline strategies might occur to target women and unlike my male counterparts how they will use it? You might say that it’s stressin’ me out.


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