Monday, January 23, 2012

Friendships, Emotional Wellbeing, and Facebook

Jack Dikian
January 2012

Recently I’ve been thinking about examining correlational factors between the size of a contact list a person contains in their mobile phone and overall psychological well-being.

Sure, this is hugely an over simplification. Pathology aside, we know for example that a raft of factors impacts upon our emotional well-being. And, even when we horde hundreds of contacts, are they of people who we remain in touch with regularly, and are they all positive elements in our lives.

Our capacity to recognize our emotions and express them appropriately can help us avoid depressive, anxiety creating, and/or other negative moods. Having a strong support network, having trusted people we can turn to for encouragement and support can boost resilience in tough times.

I guess what I’m really asking - are people with large groups of [friends] also share good emotional and mental health. I say “friends” in italic because that in it-self has many contentions. For instance, Facebook friends, colleagues, acquaintances, associates, family members, etc sometimes blurred.

An interesting phenomenon, in the United States at least, is the idea that Americans are thought to be suffering a loss in the quality and quantity of close friendships since at least 1985. Facebook friends are on an upward trend. In Britain today, the average 22-year-old has over 1,000 Facebook friends, 50 times more than their parents.

According to the study in the June 2006 issue of the journal American Sociological Review reports that 25% of Americans have no close confidants and that the average total number of confidants per citizen has dropped from four to two. The study reports also:

  • Americans' dependence on family as a safety net went up from 57% to 80%.
  • Americans' dependence on a partner or spouse went up from 5% to 9%.

Incidentally, that research found a link between fewer friendships (especially in quality) and psychological regression.

1 comment:

  1. Do you think that correlational factors you describe are directly linked to the emotional stability of the individual? Early childhood development and trauma directly affects an adults capacity to reason and react under many social situations including 'friendships' confined to Social Media. I do not believe that dependence on family as a safety net has gone up. In my field of work I see more than my share of abandoned and abused young people. Working with Teens and Young adults and their parents (on the frontline) see dependence on government authorities most prevalent.