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Join tens of thousands of doctors, health professionals and patients who receive our newsletters. There has been considerable commentary from critics regarding Internet use and specifically relating higher levels of stress to social media use. There are circumstances under which the social use of digital technology increases awareness of stressful events in the lives of others. There was no statistical difference in stress levels between men who use social media, mobile phones or the Internet and men who do not use these technologies.
There was one exception to this rule, when bad things happened to people in the social circles of the women.
Twenty years ago, sharing news meant picking up the phone, writing a letter or sitting down to talk. Social media allows us to send a message or invite to all our friends instantly online and with the advent of apps on smart phones, people exist in an environment of persistent contact and pervasive awareness. This study suggests that the information transferred through social media translates into awareness of all kinds of extra things, including an awareness of undesirable events in the lives of family, friends and acquaintances. Medical News Today recently reported on a study that examines why couples post "lovey-dovey" updates on Facebook and suggests that some brag about their relationships in order to mitigate fears of rejection.
Social media and the cost of caring, Keith Hampton, et al, Pew Research Internet Project, accessed 16 January 2015.
Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. That these posts draw seemingly different conclusions from the same report indicates the need to deconstruct the research and reporting on social media. In an earlier column, I challenged researchers to dig deeper into how people use social media. As I read the articles in Wired about the Pew study, several questions came to mind about how we're still measuring and reporting on social media's impact. Seen another way, social media is where people share links to articles from news media outlets and where news media outlets directly share their articles. When we ask people whether they use social media as an important source for news, we leave unclear which of these they mean when answering.

We've also asked the degree to which these news users click on news links and found that about half of Facebook news consumers at least sometimes click on news links.
By crossing these different groups we can get a sense of the various sources of news in social media as consumers attribute them. In this formulation, the end user doesn't even know that social media was the "source" (caveats described above notwithstanding).
Thus, even news we get from radio, TV and newspapers comes in part from social media (again, with the above caveats). And it's why my colleagues and I have spent a lot of time working with news media organizations to help their journalists become more adept at using social media. As you can see, these considerations significantly cloud what it means to "get news" from social media.
In general, my chief concern with regard to research in this area is that the surveys that are not constructed to untangle any of these considerations will misrepresent the role social media plays in informing people. Unless the press is attuned to these issues, coverage of social media, in my opinion, has the potential to damage society. In order to help all of us better understand how people use social media to get the news; I invite you to share your methods in the comment section below.
According to Deirdre McFarland, VP of Marketing for Scarborough, age is significant as it can be an indicator for the future of news consumption. Social Newsies’ average annual household income of $72,000 is slightly higher than the national average of $70,000. Not surprisingly, Social Newsies are among the Internet’s most avid social media consumers. Social Newsies’ utilization of traditional media is on par with that of the general adult U.S. 34% have visited a newspaper website in the last 30 days (and are 31% more likely to have done so than adults in general). In keeping with their digital media interests, Social Newsies are 18 percent more likely than all U.S.
It is the social uses of digital technologies, and the way they increase awareness of distressing events in others' lives, that can result in users feeling more stress.

The aim of their research was to explore whether the use of social media, mobile phones and the Internet is associated with higher levels of stress.
However, contrary to previous reports, simply using social media did not lead to more stress. Whether as a result of social media, or more traditional forms of interaction, awareness of undesirable events in others' lives generates increasing psychological stress, and with it, higher risk for the physical and psychological problems that often accompany stress. Instead of just identifying which social media channels people use, we need to know more about how they use different social media channels. In this formulation, people may learn of a Wall Street Journal article via Twitter or Facebook, but WSJ is the actual source, not social media. The proliferation in the number of news providers and options for ways to connect to them has also meant a proliferation in ways to think about and define news. Our most common definition for our social media work (and the one uses in the most recent survey) is “information about events and issues beyond just your friends and family.” It's still quite broad but does eliminate quite a bit of what occurs in those spaces. But, as Amy Mitchell’s answers indicate, we will see some of the unpacking of the relationship between the people and the news as mediated by social media in the current study and more unpacking to come.
Instead of teaching people the media and information literacy skills they need in order to make effective use of the rich information shared via social media, bad coverage would teach them to dismiss or downplay social media as a news source for reasons (as outlined above) that are not warranted. As the recent survey showed, following news organizations or journalists is more common on Twitter than Facebook (46% versus 28%) – and a follow-up report broke the Facebook findings down along generational lines. Social Newsies are significant to media brands and consumer product producers alike as their behavior can help businesses understand the future potential for social networking-based information and news consumption.
Broadcasters, take note: they are more likely to use social networks to look up show information. We found that for those that do follow news organizations, about half say most of their news comes from the news organizations rather than friends and family. Finally, our study of local news ecology in three cities asked very specifically about following specific local news providers in social media.

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