Are all your Facebook friends stressing you out?

Having heaps of Facebook friends may make you look popular, but is actually a source of stress, researchers say.

The more social circles a person belongs to, the more worried they get about causing offence. In particular, adding employers or parents resulted in the greatest increase in anxiety, says the University of Edinburgh Business School team.

“Stress arises when a user presents a version of themself on Facebook that is unacceptable to some of their online ‘friends’, such as posts displaying behaviour such as swearing, recklessness, drinking and smoking,” they say.

And the problem’s likely to get worse: some 55 per cent of parents now follow their children on Facebook, and more than half of employers say they’ve rejected job applicants based on their Facebook page.

The researchers found that on average Facebook users haveseven different social circles. The most common group was friends known offline, with 97 percent adding them as friends online. This was followed by extended family at 81 percent, siblings at 80 percent, friends of friends at 69 percent and colleagues at 65 percent.

Weirdly, more people are Facebook friends with their former partners than with their current one. Only 56 per cent of users were friends with their boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse online, compared with 64 per cent of exes.

“Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance, drink and flirt,” says

report author Ben Marder.

“But now with your mum, dad and boss there, the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines.”