One article, entitled Mirror Mirror on My Facebook Wall: Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self Esteem (https://psy.psych.colostate.edu/Research/Spring/Article10.pdf),
indicates that self esteem can be positively influenced because information posted is selective and therefore elicits positive comments from others. Given that this information is subjective and not observed behavior of the individual, there is no real-time feedback of how that individual actually behaves. Whether pictures are posted, statuses are updated, or comments made on others’ pages, much thought can be put into how one presents him/herself on Facebook. If one wanted, one could create a completely false self to present to the Facebook world and live in the pretense of that reality. So now, if one is comparing their life to that of someone on FB who created this false reality, will that create poor feelings of self?
Another article, entitled The High Cost of Facebook Exhibitionism (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201304/the-high-cost-facebook-exhibitionism), talks about how “image management” is the primary focus of users, especially young females, and that a great deal of time is spent boosting their quest for popularity. Whether posting pictures out with friends, drinking, bearing cleavage or other body parts, or posing in compromising positions, all are done for one purpose: attention seeking.
Amazingly, this phenomenon is not limited to the young. Adults in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, can be seen displaying the same type of Facebook behaviors as those who are junior to them. And it’s true what the article above asks: why do you feel the need to share what you are sharing on a public social network? Are you seeking attention? Do you need to be seen a certain way? And finally, is it working for you? Do you feel better about yourself for the perception you have created? Do you feel more loved, more connected, and more accepted because of your interaction on Facebook? If not, do you notice yourself feeling more depressed / isolated / alone?
If you’ve found that you are in the addictive hold of Facebook, it may be time to reach out and get help. One article, 7 Telltale Signs of Facebook Addiction (http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/facebook-addiction-signs), notes the following signs of Facebook addiction: 1. Over sharing, 2. Checking FB whenever possible, 3. Overly concerned with FB image, 4. Reporting on FB, 5. Spending hours browsing FB every day, 6. Mad rush to add more friends, 7. Compromising offline social life, and I’d like to add the last one – inability to deactivate your account for any period of time.
If nothing else, there is worth in self-reflection regarding your use of Facebook, or perhaps your children’s use of Facebook. It’s worth asking whether it is doing more harm than good in you or your loved ones’ life. If harm is being done, it may be time to seek help. Besides, face-to-face contact with friends is way more rewarding and way more real. As humans, we need that.