(CBS SF) — The more Facebook friends a teenager has, the more stressed out they likely are, according to a new study.
A research team at the University of Montreal found that having more than 300 friends on Facebook significantly increased teens’ level of the stress hormone cortisol.
“We can therefore imagine that those who have 1,000 or 2,000 friends on Facebook may be subjected to even greater stress,” said Professor Sonia Lupien, who lead the team.
The study recruited 88 boys and girls aged in between 12 and 17 and asked about their frequency of Facebook use, the number of friends on the social media site, their self-promoting behavior and the supporting behavior they displayed toward their friends. The team collected cortisol samples four times a day for three days.
Teens who acted in support of their Facebook friends by doing things such as liking their posts and sending words of encouragement showed lower levels of cortisol.
The paper, published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, is one of the first to focus on the effects of Facebook on well-being.
“Adolescents who present high stress hormone levels do not become depressed immediately; it can occur later on,” Lupien said. “Some studies have shown that it may take 11 years before the onset of severe depression in children who consistently had high cortisol levels.”