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Abstract

Social media has changed the face of social interaction, particularly in countries like Palestine where restrictions related to cultural and geopolitical realities create an environment of isolation for young adults. Despite its benefits, it is suggested that dependence on social media diminishes motivation to participate in naturally occurring activities and life interests lead-ing to mental health risks. The aim of this study was to assess the potential association be-tween excessive Facebook use and emotional discomfort (depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms) in a student population in Palestine. A descriptive cross-sectional design was utilized in this investigation. The study population included all students at a major university in Palestine. The sample included 1003 students of mixed gender and area of study. A survey of Facebook utilization, perceived academic success and mental health risk was completed by each participant. Almost all participants [938 (98.3%)] were Facebook users with a high utilization population identified [239 (26%) spending over 3 hours daily on Face-book]and262 (28.3%) had over 300 Facebook friends. A relationship between the intensity of Facebook use/ number of Facebook friends and symptoms of anxiety and depression was found; higher levels of use predicting higher levels of symptoms (p <0.05). Furthermore, a significant association between scores on the Facebook Intensity Scale (FIS)and perceived negative effect on educational performance was demonstrated(p<0.001). The excessive use of Facebook in environments of social and leisure restriction may lead to increased risk for mental health symptomology and interfere with actual developmental tasks by negatively impacting academic achievement and other indicators of success for young adults.

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