While social networking site Facebook was created to help people connect with their friends, increasing research in the effect of social media on human interaction is painting a different picture -- one that features the development of antisocial behavior, narcissism and a slew of other character flaws and negative by-products.
Overdosing on Facebook may lead to the development of such psychological disorders in teens, according to a recent study conducted by Dr. Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University.
[More from Mashable: 4 Reasons Google+ Brand Pages Will Be Better Than Facebook’s [OPINION]]
In a presentation entitled "Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids" at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Rosen presented his findings based on a number of computer-based surveys distributed to 1,000 urban adolescents and his 15-minute observations of 300 teens in the act of studying.
Some of the negative side effects of Facebook use for teens that Rosen cited included:
[More from Mashable: 45 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed]
- development of narcissism in teens who often use Facebook
- presence of other psychological disorders, including antisocial behaviors, mania and aggressive tendencies, in teens who have a strong Facebook presence
- increased absence from school and likelihood of developing stomach aches, sleeping problems, anxiety and depression, in teens who "overdose" in technology on a daily basis, including Facebook and video games
- lower grades for middle school, high school and college students who checked Facebook at least once during a 15-minute study period
- lower reading retention rates for students who most frequently had Facebook open on their computers during the 15-minute study period
Not all findings were negative, however -- one of the more interesting points from Rosen's research was the development of "virtual empathy."
Generally, we think of empathy as an in-person activity, where hugs, facial expressions and kind words help improve a loved one's mood. Rosen says that teens are developing the ability to show virtual empathy for distressed Facebook friends and that the empathy is actually well-received by friends, positively influencing their mood.
This virtual empathy, he says, can even spill over into the real world, teaching teens how to empathize with others in everyday life.
This story originally published on Mashable here.