Some people argue with the fact that social media is not good for mental health. Others go in favor of it saying that getting on it gives them a boost but especially depending on how much you spend your time on it. Different studies have found correlations between higher social media use and deteriorated mental health, including depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and lower self-esteem.
In this regard, a new study not only explains the effect of excessive social media use and poor mental health but also highlights that how you spend your time on social media actually has huge effects on mental health.
The study carried out at the University of Pennsylvania and published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Around140 undergraduates were asked to either keep using their regular use of social media including Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram or to restrict each one to 10 minutes per day. The participants also provided data from their phones to show precisely how much time they were actually spending on these apps, rather than counting on memory, which can be unreliable.
Before and after the study, the participants also filled out questionnaires so the researchers could understand how they were doing psychologically and inform about their current mental health. Most of them were particularly experiencing anxiety, loneliness, depression, and the famous “fear of missing out,” or FOMO.
People who stopped using their social media use to 30 minutes observed a huge difference in their personality and felt significantly better after the three-week period, reporting a decrease in depression and loneliness, especially those who participated into the study with higher levels of depression and other neuropsychological behaviors. Surprisingly enough, both groups reported less FOMO and less anxiety at the end of the study, which the researchers suggested may just be a resulting benefit of increased self-monitoring and reduced use of social media.
“Here’s the bottom line,” said study author Melissa G. Hunt in a statement. “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”
“It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely,” said Hunt. “Some of the existing literature on social media suggests there’s an enormous amount of social comparison that happens. When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.”