Facebook Jealousy with Teens: Lessening the Effects

social networks, facebook, relationships, friendships

 Ara is a 15-year-old from Edmonds, WA. She enjoys blogging, spending time with her family and hopes to somehow incorporate her passion of writing into what she does in the future.

Facebook—a place where teens can see what all of their friends are doing, who they have friended, who they are talking to and even where they are via the location feature on a status update. But, is constantly seeing a play by play of what their friends are doing (perhaps without them) healthy? Due to the fact that Facebook allows people to see practically every aspect of one’s life, Facebook jealousy in relationships/friendships is very prevalent and can even become unhealthy if not handled properly. For example, a study conducted by Muise, et al. (2009) showed that 308 undergraduate students who completed a survey regarding their usage of Facebook and its impact on relationships found that increased use of Facebook does, in fact, significantly predict increased jealousy. Women scored significantly higher on Facebook jealousy than men, 3.29 versus 2.81. Also, a majority of study participants (74.6%) were at least somewhat likely to “friend” a former partner, and 78.9% of participants said their partner had friended a former partner. Ninety-two percent (92.1%) of study participants said their partner had Facebook friends that they did not know. Although it is unreasonable and unnecessary to completely eliminate the usage of Facebook to avoid jealousy, parents can help teenagers lessen the effects.

First of all, it is important to understand WHY exactly Facebook can cause jealousy in friendships and relationships:

  1. People find out negative things about a person that they would have otherwise not known.
  2. People can see when their friends/partner is hanging out with other people (perhaps they were not invited or the other person is with somebody that the person does not like).
  3. People may become concerned about who their friend/partner is talking with over Facebook, or “poking”.
  4. A friend/ partner could be spending too much time on Facebook which could therefore interfere with the amount of time spent together.


So, how can parents lessen the effects of Facebook jealousy on their teens?

First of all, parents should recommend limiting time spent on Facebook if jealousy is effecting their teens; it is easier for jealousy caused by Facebook to affect your teen when they are excessively checking Facebook to see what their friends or partner is doing. By suggesting that they limit their time spent on Facebook, it becomes easier for teens to avoid seeing things on Facebook that could possibly spark jealousy. Secondly, remind them that they should try to not dwell over what it was that made them jealous, but should rather move on and not let jealous thoughts occupy their time. Lastly, encourage them to talk to the friend or partner that has made them jealous about why they felt the way that they did—not in a confrontational way, but rather in a way that allows them to express how they feel or felt at the time of jealousy in order to help remove possible tension and hard feelings felt by the person who was experiencing the jealousy.

Photo credit: Mehfuz Hossain on Flickr

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