That’s an approximation of the tabloid headlines. But, as ever, NHS Choices offers a more solid critique of various bits of research into the effects of online social networking on our psyche.
“Overall, social networking improves self-esteem, particularly when the person has a greater number of contacts that they consider to be close and when the information they are viewing is related to themselves, such as personal experiences they have related. This seems quite a plausible finding.”
However, the research also showed that this boost to self-esteem was somehow associated with making unhealthier food choices directly afterwards, as well as less persistence when asked to perform a mental task.
Sounds spurious to me. Yes, enhancing one’s circle of friends will improve self-esteem (even if that is delusional in some cases), but there are countless situations in which people snack unhealthily after completing a task, whether that’s going to the shops or tweeting your amazon wishlist. I’d imagine that after spending time on one particular task most people would not be particularly keen to then switch focus to something new especially under test conditions. Either way, the good vs evil battle between users and non-users will rage on.