To look at the relationship between Facebook activity and self-esteem levels, we asked students in a research methods class to participate in an experiment. The independent variable was Facebook activity and had four levels. Specifically, we manipulated whether the participants looked at their own profile page, photos and possibly updated their status (Personal Profile Condition), their friends’ profile pages and photos (Friends’ Profile Condition), their newsfeed (Newsfeed Condition), or were in the control group which looked at geometric shapes (Control Condition). The dependent variable was the difference in self-esteem levels. To measure the participants change in self-esteem, we compared their self-report of their self-esteem levels on two Rosenberg Self-Esteem scales, one, which was completed before and one after the assigned condition.
The participants were recruited for this study through their participation in a research methods in psychology class at a rural university in the southwest. There were 57 total participants; 16 males, and 41 females. The age range of the participants was 18 - 39; the mean age was 21.35 with a standard deviation of 3.19. Two percent of the participants were freshman, 25% sophomores, 61% juniors, and 12% were seniors; all majoring in psychology. All participants in this study were already Facebook users and had accounts prior to the beginning of this study. Forty-two percent of the participants reported spending at least an hour per day on social media websites. On average, 60% of participants stated they spend most of their time on social media looking at their newsfeed, 16% indicated talking with friends takes up most of their time, while another 14% reported the majority of their time is spent looking at friends’ photos. 37 of the participants indicated they were members of 2 or more social media websites.
Participants in Personal Profile Condition, Friends’ Profile Condition, and Newsfeed Condition used mac computers of equal sizes for looking at Facebook; distance from the screen was not regulated. A T.V monitor was used in the Control Condition to play a PowerPoint presentation consisting of 26 slides of geometric images each of which was presented for 7 seconds. A questionnaire was used for all conditions. The questionnaire was five pages long and consisted of demographic questions, and two copies of the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale, one of which had the questions rearranged randomly. The first page asked about participants’ gender, age, and year in school; the second page was an RSES, the third instructed the participants to wait for further instructions; the fourth was another RSES, and the fifth asked participants how much time they spent daily on social media websites, what activity they spent the most time doing, and which sites they used.
The experiment took place in a moderately sized computer lab with fluorescent lighting; all of the...