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Study: Facebook Is Good For Self-esteem, Bad For Self-control

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file photo. (Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

file photo. (Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. (CBS) – Put down the cookies! A new study shows using Facebook might reduce your self-control.

According to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia Business School, just five minutes of browsing Facebook a day could put users at risk of overindulging – both financially and physically.

In the paper titled “Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control,” researchers explain that using social networks enhances self-esteem among those who focused on information from close friends. Facebook use was not only associated with higher body mass index (BMI); it was also linked to higher credit card debt.

During the five-part study, participants were first asked to use complete a survey about how closely they connected to friends on Facebook before being divided into two groups — one that wrote about Facebook and one that used the social media site. Both groups completed a self-esteem survey. Regardless of whether or not they actually used Facebook, those who identified their ties to friends on Facebook as strong showed an increase in self-esteem.

In the second part of the study, participants were asked to use Facebook for five minutes. When they focused on the information they presented to others, researchers found the Facebook users again experienced an increase in self-esteem.

In the third and fourth parts of the research, users were asked to browse Facebook or read articles on CNN.com, then choose between eating a granola bar or a cookie. Those who read Facebook were more likely to choose the cookie, and they were also more likely to give up when asked to complete a word puzzle.

Finally, participants completed an online survey that asked, among other things, for their height and weight, the number of credit cards they owned and their amount of credit card debt. It turns out using Facebook was associated with higher BMI, increased binge-eating, a lower credit score and higher levels of credit card debt for those who reported strong ties to their online friend network.

“It would be worthwhile for researchers and policy makers to further explore social network use in order to better understand which consumers may be particularly vulnerable to suffering negative psychological or social consequences,” the study’s authors wrote.

So while it’s not clear that close friends are “the enemy,” they might not help your diet or your online shopping addiction.

To read more on the study, click here.

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