As it turns out, your kids may not be wasting their formative years on Facebook after all. A study in an upcoming publication of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication reveals that our first impressions of people are heavily influenced by how many Facebook friends they have.
Any kid knows that it's important to make a good impression on the first day of school. If you show up in hand-me-downs, stinking of gym socks, it's going to be the worst year ever. It's no different online, where people tend to "form a halo of impressions from relatively small cues," claims NeoAcademic's Richard Landers.
The heart of the study involved the creation of fake Facebook profiles comprised of random wall posts and wielding profile photos of "known attractiveness," says Landers. These profiles stood in as control data while the actual amount of friends served as variable data. Profiles with 90-99 friends scored lower amongst participants than profiles with 330-340 friends.
Essentially, the study found that equally attractive people with equally active Facebook feeds but a smaller friend count are considered less socially and physically attractive, less approachable, and less extroverted than those with a larger friend count. Landers states that "this is a critical finding for research examining the value of Facebook profiles [...] for real-life processes like hiring or background checks."
It's very possible that learning how to be likable on Facebook could be integral to future employment—whether anyone Likes it or not.