Time Spent on Social Media Linked to Mental Health Issues

Facebook is really giving us FOMO study finds getty

The study shows that limiting the use of social media to approximately 30 minutes per day "may lead to a significant improvement in well-being" and reductions in loneliness and depression.

"We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid", said Melissa Hunt, lead author of the study and associate director of clinical training in the Psychology Department of the University of Pennsylvania.

Half of the participants used social media as normal, while the other half limited their usage to only ten minutes per day for each of the platforms studied: Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. "These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study".

The participants completed a survey on their mood and well-being at the start of the study.

As a result, researchers found that the group of limited social media use showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks compared to the control group.

"Our study can not speak directly to why this happens", she stressed.

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After completion of the experiment, the psychologists prepared a special questionnaire for students with seven indicators: social support, fear to fall out of the environment, loneliness, anxiety, depression, self-esteem and self-acceptance.

"However, it is important to note that all social media use is not the same", said Primack. The work does, however, speak to the idea that limiting screen time on these apps couldn't hurt.

However, it should be noted that, first, the study was conducted with a rather small sample, and, secondly, researchers evaluated the use of social networks, only according from a smartphone (measured consumption of battery power in the relevant annexes), use of social networks on the computer, they had to trust the participants themselves. In January, nonprofit advocacy group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood wrote a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to discontinue the Messenger Kids app, saying, "Younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts".

Hunt also hesitates to say that these findings would replicate for other age groups or in different settings. Those are questions she still hopes to answer, including in an upcoming study about the use of dating apps by college students.

Researchers found that those who for three weeks has reduced the use of social networking, began to feel less alone, regardless of the initial level.

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