A TOP researcher of social media has warned of the dangers of using Facebook too much after a study revealed that people who abstained from the networking site led happier lives.

Paul Levy, who works in the University of Brighton's business school, said stress can arise from constantly tuning into other people's lives on Facebook.

He said: "We aren't just taking in and sharing information - we are also sharing emotional news, the bad as well as the good. And that bad news can soon rub off on us and erode a positive day."

The study in Denmark split 1,095 daily Facebook users into two groups, half given access to the site as normal and the remainder forced to quit for a week. Those without the social network felt 55% less stressed.

Meik Wiking, the chief executive behind the study, said Facebook was a "bombardment of everyone else’s great news" while many in Denmark "look out of the window and see grey skies and rain" - a scenario not dissimilar to Brighton and Hove, where smart phone and social media usage is on the rise.

The Argus website is a case in point; more than half of its website traffic comes from mobile and tablet devices, up from 40 per cent a year earlier. The number of page views derived from Facebook has also doubled in a year.

Mr Levy said letting go of Facebook can feel "like a breath of fresh air" but also pointed to the benefits of people becoming more able to express themselves.

A book by Mr Levy, called Digital Inferno, offers evidence that people can become addicted to social media while neglecting time with family and friends.

One person who felt Facebook was taking over is Duncan Andrews, 29, who lives near Lewes Road in Brighton. He quit Facebook earlier this year.

He said: "I left because I felt I was spending too much time procrastinating and not getting on with my actual life.

"It became a sort of comfort blanket, checking it every five minutes - I didn't like that I had become so dependent on it.

"Facebook is a dangerous escapism, if you get addicted. It was just making me angry and I'm glad I left.

"I appreciate it's a great communication tool but I'm happy with other, less intrusive platforms that have now superseded Facebook, like [free messaging service] WhatsApp.

"Being on Facebook stunts productivity and reflects the self-interested aspects of human nature."

Nicole Carman is co-founder of Glued, an app that monitors smartphone and tablet usage, encouraging daily screen time limits.

Mrs Carman, who lives in Hove, said: "There are much younger kids signing up to Facebook now. There's an undertone of 'How popular are you? How cool are you?' People do get drawn in by it."