Facebook Friends with (Health) Benefits? Exploring Social Network Site Use and Perceptions of Social Support, Stress, and Well-Being

1 Department of Communication, University of California-Santa Barbara , Santa Barbara, California.
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (Impact Factor: 2.18). 06/2013; 16(10). DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0521
Source: PubMed


Abstract There is clear evidence that interpersonal social support impacts stress levels and, in turn, degree of physical illness and psychological well-being. This study examines whether mediated social networks serve the same palliative function. A survey of 401 undergraduate Facebook users revealed that, as predicted, number of Facebook friends associated with stronger perceptions of social support, which in turn associated with reduced stress, and in turn less physical illness and greater well-being. This effect was minimized when interpersonal network size was taken into consideration. However, for those who have experienced many objective life stressors, the number of Facebook friends emerged as the stronger predictor of perceived social support. The "more-friends-the-better" heuristic is proposed as the most likely explanation for these findings.

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