376 Facebook Negativity & Depression


Research by Rosenthal, Samantha. R., Buka, S. L., Marshall, B. D. L., Carey, K. B., & Clark, Melissa. A. (2016).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S. 

Have you ever had negative comments on your social media posts? Or seen hurtful comments? How do negative social media impact our emotions?

Brown University and University of Massachusetts Medical School researchers assessed if negative Facebook experiences influence depressive symptoms among 264 young adult participants. 

Participants had to be Facebook users. Each was assessed for depressive symptoms. They indicated how often they encounter negative experiences (specifically, bulling or meanness, unwanted contact or misunderstanding). The participant had to indicate the number of lifetime experiences, the severity of their experiences, and how upset they were from: their lifetime experience, past-year experience, and most recent experience.

Results? There was a positive relationship between depressive symptoms and severity of negative Facebook experiences, across all categories. The majority reported negative experiences, both in the past-year and in their lifetime. The most common lifetime negative Facebook experience was unwanted contact and misunderstanding. The most upsetting was a recent experience of bullying and meanness.

Think before you post on Facebook! Be careful what you say, even if you’re joking. Posting hurtful messages regardless of intention can cause others harm.  If you feel depressed, limit your facebook time. 


Rosenthal, S. R., Buka, S. L., Marshall, B. D. L., Carey, K. B., & Clark, M. A. (2016). Negative experiences on facebook and depressive symptoms among young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 59, 510 – 516.


About Author

Adele Hall is the administrative assistant for the School of Psychology in charge of uploading the Psychology Science minutes. The authors of the minutes are listed in the written portion. The Psychology Science Minutes are coordinated by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D., faculty emerita, and reviewed by former Dean Mary Beth Kenkel, faculty emerita.

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