This is What Facebook is Doing to Your Mood

You might not "like" this news.

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Photo by Lesley Lister/Getty Images

The average American spends about 40 minutes each day on Facebook. That adds up to a whopping 4 hours and 40 minutes per week. And it turns out all that time spent scrolling, clicking, liking, and commenting could be doing us more harm than good.

Time spent on Facebook is linked with depressive symptoms, according to two new studies. “It doesn’t mean Facebook causes depression, but that depressed feelings and lots of time on Facebook and comparing oneself to others tend to go hand in hand,” Ly Steers, lead author of the paper, said in a statement.

In the first study, researchers from the University of Houston found a connection between depressive symptoms and time spent on the social media channel. However, they found the connection was much more evident in men than in women. The second study suggested that we compare ourselves to others when we use Facebook, regardless of our gender.

Facebook makes it easy to compare ourselves to our online "friends." And digital comparison makes us feel even worse than comparing ourselves to others in person. “You can’t really control the impulse to compare because you never know what your friends are going to post," Steers said in the statement. "In addition, most of our Facebook friends tend to post about the good things that occur in their lives, while leaving out the bad. If we’re comparing ourselves to our friends’ ‘highlight reels,’ this may lead us to think their lives are better than they actually are and conversely, make us feel worse about our own lives.”

One way to combat the comparison cycle? Unplug. Take time away from Facebook—and the rest of your digital life—to live your real one. Read a (real) book, tackle a DIY project, and find other creative ways to unplug.