It’s rather sad to admit to, but our culture has instilled an idea that popularity is almost as ‘must-have’ as the latest iPhone. And while our children may believe that a thousand-strong social media following is the best thing in the world, experts say otherwise.


According to new research carried out by a team from the University of Montreal, teenagers who have high numbers of friends on Facebook could experience higher stress levels than those with a smaller, more tight-knit group.


Lead researcher, Professor Sonia Lupien carried out a study involving 88 kids aged 12 to 17. After discussing their Facebook friend groups and how often they used the site, Prof Lupien then looked at their levels of cortisol (known as ‘the stress hormone’).



Prof Lupien found that while the ‘liking’ of posts generally led to a decrease in cortisol levels, they spiked for teens with 300 friends or more. The team were able to determine that Facebook alone has around an 8% impact on stress levels.


“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,” said Prof Lupien.


The study results, published this week in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, certainly provide food for thought in this social media-saturated age.