Social media use triggers stress, unhappiness among materialistic users: Study

London, Jan 22: The use of social media is associated with risks, especially for people with a highly materialistic mindset, as scrolling down content posted by others can increase stress and unhappiness in such users, say researchers.

At the same time, the social media platforms attract materialists anyway, as they are a perfect way to satisfy many materialistic needs, according to the study published in the journal Telematics and Informatics Reports.

The researchers headed by Dr Phillip Ozimek from the Faculty of Psychology at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, recruited 1,230 people for the study.

In order to participate, respondents had to use at least one social media channel at least once a week. On average, the participants stated that they spent just over two hours a day on social media.

The research team used six different questionnaires to determine the extent to which the participants had a materialistic attitude and tended to compare themselves with others, whether they used social media more actively or passively, whether they were addicted to social media, how stressed and how satisfied they were with their lives.

“The data showed that a stronger materialistic approach goes hand in hand with a tendency to compare oneself with others,” said Ozimek.

This comparison is very easy to make on social media, primarily through passive use — by looking at the content posted by other users.

Materialism and passive use were also linked to addictive use of social media.

“By this we mean, for example, that users are constantly thinking about the respective channels and fear that they are missing out on something if they are not online,” Ozimek added.

This, in turn, leads to symptoms of poorer mental health — stress.

The final link in the chain is reduced life satisfaction. “Social media is one of six stepping stones to unhappiness,” Ozimek noted.

It’s definitely a good idea to be aware of the amount of time you spend on social media and to reduce it, the authors noted.