How Five Minutes on Facebook Gives You Credit Card Debt

By Alden Wicker

NEW YORK (Learnvest) — Mashable reports that keeping up with close friends on Facebook can increase your self-esteem, which in turn lowers your self-control and leads to spending more and eating more.

In five experiments, researchers observed that just five minutes of browsing the social networking site lowered self-control when it came to health and financial decisions. Researchers also found a correlation between greater social network use and higher body-mass index and credit card debt, even when controlling for factors such as income and education.

“What was really surprising to us was that in our studies these effects were found after just five minutes of browsing Facebook,” Andrew T. Stephen, a University of Pittsburgh assistant professor and an author of the study, told Mashable. “It seems that people don’t need to spend a lot of time to be psychologically affected.”

No more Facebook?

How can you avoid going on a shopping spree after messaging your BFF, or diving into the leftover Halloween candy after liking your sister’s puppy picture? The first step is just knowing how Facebook can wreck your budget – so finish your Christmas shopping before you browse your news feed.

Or you could save interactions with your closest friends and family for the phone or face-to-face: Researchers found that the detrimental effect of browsing on self-control only showed up when study participants focused on close social ties.

So you’re free to look at pictures of that guy in your sophomore year philosophy class: That won’t tempt you to put an order of three-cheese pizza on your credit card.