London: Looking at old photos of yourself on Facebook and reading wall posts that you have written can lift your mood, and can be as soothing as a walk in the park, according to a new study.
Almost 90 per cent of users access the site to look at their own wall posts, and three quarters look at their own photos when they are feeling low, the study has found.
Dr Alice Good, of the University of Portsmouth, found that this kind of 'self soothing' use of Facebook is actually beneficial to the user's mood, especially if they are prone to feeling low.
This directly contradicts previous research that has suggested that looking at Facebook can be bad for your mental health.
"We were very surprised by these findings, which contradict some recent reports. Although this was only a small study, we will go on to study larger groups to see if the results remain consistent," Good said.
Good quizzed 144 Facebook users and found that people often use the social network to reminisce, using old photos and wall posts as a form of comfort.
Looking back at older photos and wall posts is the main activity, and the one that made them happiest.
"Although this is a pilot study, these findings are fascinating. Facebook is marketed as a means of communicating with others. Yet this research shows we are more likely to use it to connect with our past selves, perhaps when our present selves need reassuring," Psychologist Dr Clare Wilson, of the University of Portsmouth said.
"The pictures we often post are reminders of a positive past event. When in the grips of a negative mood, it is too easy to forget how good we often feel. Our positive posts can remind us of this," Wilson said.
The survey also found that people who have experienced mental health issues are particularly comforted by the site.
"The results indicate we could use self-soothing as a form of treatment for low moods," Good said.
The study has concluded that looking at comforting photos, known as reminiscent therapy, could be an effective method of treating mental health.
The report also looked at ways of accessing Facebook, with phones being the most popular method and 94 per cent admitting they had their phone on them at all time.
Seventy per cent actually said they preferred to access Facebook using their phone over more conventional methods, such as a PC or laptop, suggesting people have a desire for immediacy, both in accessing the site as well as for viewing photos.
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