Social media use actually does something really good for women

Jan 27, 2015 at 4:37 p.m. ET

It's no secret that most women crave connection with others, something that can be difficult to sustain when we're all working so hard, raising families, caring for elderly parents and so on. While many of us pooh-pooh social media as a waste of time, a new survey suggests women who use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and similar sites actually feel less stress than those who want nothing to do with your hashtags.

Researchers at Rutgers University and the Pew Research Center have discovered that women who text, frequent social media sites and send emails on a regular basis scored 21 percent lower on a stress test than women who prefer to abstain from tech talk.

This is extremely good news for Kim Kardashian, who finally has a comeback when told selfies are linked to narcissist personality disorders — but it's also fabulous news for those of us who post one selfie a month but want to be left alone about it.

We're constantly being told that our hectic lives and out-of-control dependency on social media is going to drive us to an early grave. As it turns out, scientific data hasn't exactly supported the link between social networking and stress.

Researchers have basically been asking people whether they feel stressed while checking out Facebook and then ticking off a "yes" or "no." But that type of casual interrogation doesn't give us much in the way of explaining the different stress levels felt by folks who have handles on every social media site in existence versus those who would rather hand deliver a letter to a friend than "like" any of their status updates.

After asking 1,800 people to complete the Perceived Stress Scale, which asks general questions about how much stress a person has experienced in the past month, experts reportedly found that there's no evidence that Facebook and other sites lead to more stress, nor is there any reason to believe that the number of "friends" you have affects your stress levels.

But there's a catch — isn't there always one? While we may feel less stress because we're connecting to others via social media, the fact that some of us become even more aware of other people's stress through their status updates and personal messages might make us "catch" their contagious stress.

In other words, we can't win. But we can post more selfies of our cute haircut without worrying that we are going to suffer from nervous breakdowns because of it. So, I guess there's that.

More about stress and health

How not to die from sitting too much (GIFS)
Stress is making us less compassionate
Proof that women handle stress better than men

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