Study after study has told us that social media is ruining our relationships and driving us into anxiety-ridden spells due to our chronic "fear of missing out." In a refreshing counter to this depressing data, new research from the Pew Research Internet Project suggests women who use social media report less stress than those who do not. Instead of stoking the flames of jealousy as we compare our real lives to the perfectly curated realms of existence that our friends and favorite celebrities portray online, the Internet might just bring us some good. (Emphasis on the "might.")
The study began with researchers surveying 1,801 adults and asking them about their stress levels using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). They then asked them about their Internet, cell phone, and social media usage, including which apps they preferred. Overall, women reported higher average levels of stress (10.5 compared to men's 9.8 — big surprise), but technology usage in women was tied "moderately" to lower stress levels while it had no impact on the wellbeing of men. Turns out, the more women use their cellphones, send/receive emails, and use Twitter, the lower their stress levels are likely to be.
Compared to women who don't partake in digital communication, women who use Twitter several times per day, send or receive 25 emails per day, and share two digital pictures through their mobile phones per day scored a whole 21 percent lower on their stress tests. Researchers hypothesized that heightened connectivity is what causes this level of relaxation, which makes total sense, since all the happy fizzy oxytocin that positive human interaction brings can still be activated even if you're not face to face.
So if throwing back a few at the bar or taking a candlelit bath isn't chilling you out, you might want to text that kitten pic to your best friend and then post it on Twitter. Barring any misogynistic trolls you encounter on the way, you're bound to feel a little more relaxed.