Teens who have more than 300 Facebook friends have higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone
Facebook can have positive and negative effects on teens levels of a stress hormone, say researchers at the University of Montreal and the Institut universitaire de santé mentale de Montréal. Led by Professor Sonia Lupien, the team found that having more than 300 Facebook friends increased teens’ levels of cortisol. On the other hand, teens who act in ways that support their Facebook friends – for example, by liking what they posted or sending them words of encouragement – decreased their levels of cortisol. Their findings were published in Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Lupien and her colleagues recruited 88 participants aged 12-17 years who were asked about their frequency of use of Facebook, their number of friends on the social media site, their self-promoting behaviour, and finally, the supporting behaviour they displayed toward their friends. Along with these four measures, the team collected cortisol samples of the participating adolescents. The samples were taken four times a day for three days.
Stress levels measured in adolescents from cortisol samples are obviously not entirely due to the popular social media site. “While other important external factors are also responsible, we estimated that the isolated effect of Facebook on cortisol was around eight percent,” Lupien said. "We were able to show that beyond 300 Facebook friends, adolescents showed higher cortisol levels; we can therefore imagine that those who have 1,000 or 2,000 friends on Facebook may be subjected to even greater stress.”
Other studies have shown that high morning cortisol levels at 13 years increase the risk of suffering from depression at 16 years by 37%. While none of the adolescents suffered from depression at the time of the study, Lupien could not conclude that they were free from an increased risk of developing it. "We did not observe depression in our participants. However, adolescents who present high stress hormone levels do not become depressed immediately; it can occur later on,” Lupien said. “Some studies have shown that it may take 11 years before the onset of severe depression in children who consistently had high cortisol levels.”
The study is one of the first in the emerging field of cyberpsychology to focus on the effects of Facebook on well-being. “The preliminary nature of our findings will require refined measurement of Facebook behaviors in relation to physiological functioning and we will need to undertake future studies to determine whether these effects exist in younger children and adults,” Lupien said. “Developmental analysis could also reveal whether virtual stress is indeed ‘getting over the screen and under the skin’ to modulate neurobiological processes related to adaptation.”
The most accepted theory of the origin of the universe is still the Big Bang. The theory proposes the universe started from a small singularity (the gravitational kind), then began to expand over the succeeding 13.8 billion years. Although this expansion has its own issues, a bigger question remains: what preceded the Big Bang?
For decades, the predominant cosmological model used by scientists has been based on the theory that in addition to baryonic matter – aka. “normal” or “luminous” matter, which we can see – the Universe also contains a substantial amount of invisible mass. This “Dark Matter” accounts for roughly 26.8% of the mass of the Universe, whereas normal matter accounts for just 4.9%.
NASA has stated that it's quite likely that our solar system is home to a massive, distant ninth planet. Its existence could shed light on some burning questions about the cosmos.
A massive solar storm called a coronal mass ejection could knock out Earth's electrical grid and communication systems, causing trillions of dollars in damage. With such an event likely in the future, two astrophysicists have proposed the construction of a shield to protect Earth.
Dark matter and dark energy are two of the greatest mysteries in the cosmos. We're fairly certain that both exist, yet their nature remains to be fully understood. Now, a team of astronomers suggests that dark energy may be a dynamical field.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have conducted the first quantum video call using the Micius satellite launched in 2016. The call was between Beijing and Vienna, and was completely unhackable.
The multiverse is one of science fiction's most beloved conceits—travel far enough, or enter the right wormhole, and you can meet your alter ego in another universe.But granting parallel universes even exist, will we ever be able to reach them? Leading physicists weigh in with their own idiosyncratic thoughts—which are, as usual, highly entertaining.
Resources that could be used on space missions and here on Earth could potentially be mined from asteroids. A new paper details what we need to know to begin harvesting these materials in earnest.
A small dot on an old piece of birch bark marks one of the biggest events in the history of mathematics. The bark is actually part of an ancient Indian mathematical document known as the Bakhshali manuscript.
Only 20 years ago butter was the public villain – contributing to raised cholesterol levels and public concern over an increased risk of heart disease. Now this public perception seems to have been reversed, and reality cooking shows seem to use butter in every recipe. But what has caused this shift in perceptions and is it based on scientific evidence?