Social networks are often praised for their positive qualities: reconnecting old friends, keeping people up-to-date with what’s happening in their friends’ lives, making it easier to stay in touch with distant family members, etc. But rarely do people discuss the obvious negatives associated with social networking and the impact they have on our lives.

A pair of European researchers have been looking into peoples' relationship as it relates to social networking over the past few years and came to the same conclusion: they can have a serious negative impact on individual well-being.

Fabio Sabatini from Sapienza University of Rome in Italy and Francesco Sarracino at STATEC in Luxembourg polled 50,000 people across Italy over the span of two years.

The survey asked a series of questions such as how satisfied people were with their lives as a whole, how often they met with friends and whether or not they think people can be trusted. They also polled people as it relates to their use of online social networks.

After crunching the data, the team found that face-to-face interactions and the trust they have in people directly impacts well-being in a positive manner.

With social networks, much of that face-to-face interaction gets replaced with digital conversations which in turn lowers the trust that people have in others. A loss of trust can ultimately have an impact on someone’s overall well-being.

This led to the conclusion that the overall effect of social networking on individual welfare is significantly negative.

Do you think social networking in general has an overall positive or negative impact on its users?