Having all those Facebook friends is stressing out teenagers

Life's tough, eh?

It might be time to start culling Facebook friends and start hitting that Like button a lot more.

Researchers at the University of Montreal and the Institut Universitaire de Santé Mentale de Montréal have been studying the positive and negative effects of Facebook on stress hormones in teenagers. The findings are probably not what you'd expect.

The study, which observed 88 participants between 12 and 17 years old, found that having more than 300 Facebook friends increased the level of cortisol - the hormone released as response to stress.

Meanwhile, those who liked other people's posts and commented positively actually reduced cortisol levels. Cortisol samples were taken four times a day over the course of three days.

Cyberpsychology

"While other important external factors are also responsible, we estimated that the isolated effect of Facebook on cortisol was around either percent," said Professor Sonia Lupien.

"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."

Cyberpsychology is a growing field that's looking at the effects of technology on psychological health. The study focused solely on teenagers and further research will be needed before we know if adults experience similar effects.

"The preliminary nature of our findings will require refined measurement of Facebook behaviours 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."