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Fri Oct 31 01:10:14 SAST 2014

Updating your Facebook status is like 'social snacking': study

AFP Relaxnews | 05 January, 2013 13:49

Image by: AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER

Facebook users who frequently update their status, regardless of whether or not their updates garner any "likes" or comments, enjoy a boost of social connectivity, which researchers dub "social snacking."

Researchers from Universitat Berlin recruited about 100 Facebook users, all university students from the US, and asked them to complete surveys on their levels of loneliness, happiness, and depression, according to LiveScience. Researchers also assessed the subjects' Facebook usage.

They asked one group of participants to post more status updates over the next seven days, while the remaining group continued using Facebook normally. At the end of each day, students completed online questionnaires about their moods and feelings of social connection.

The subjects who boosted their status updating felt less lonely over the week, while their happiness and depression went unchanged. This was true regardless of whether or not anyone commented on their status, or liked it, which is interesting in that a lack of response could be seen as a form of rejection.

"When crafting a clever status, Facebook users have a target audience in mind," writes LiveScience. "Simply thinking about their friends (or at least their Facebook friends) can have a ‘social snacking' effect."

"Similar to a snack temporarily reducing hunger until the next meal, social snacking may help tolerate the lack of 'real' social interaction for a certain amount of time," the researchers wrote. Their findings were recently published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Last month, a separate study found that the more friends you have on Facebook the more likely you are to be stressed. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh Business School in the UK say that the more diverse your Facebook friendship network -- coworkers, high school buddies, family members, exes -- the greater your chances are of offending someone, which can cause anxiety.

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