Spending Too Much Time on Social Media May Increase Risk of Depression

Depression? Loneliness? Limit your social media use, study says

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".

"The results from our experiment strongly suggest that limiting social media usage does have a direct and positive impact on subjective well-being over time, especially with respect to decreasing loneliness and depression", the study concludes. The new way of keeping in touch with friends is by sharing updates on Facebook, posting Stories on Snapchat and Instagram and speaking about your views on Twitter.

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.

The study, co-authored by 2018 College graduates Rachel Marx and Courtney Lipson, as well as College senior Jordyn Young, monitored the social media usage of 143 undergraduate Penn students over a four-week span.

Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram may be hazardous to your mental health. So in total, they were allowed 30 minutes of social media use per day.

To be precise, each student was asked to limit his social media usage to 10 minutes per app every day. "These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study", said psychologist Melissa Hunt, who led the research.

Their study was based on a sample of 196 Facebook users, with an average age of 31, who completed an online survey consisting of a range of psychometric tools to assess their mental capabilities and behavioural style. After three weeks, they were tested again for outcomes such as fear of missing out, anxiety, depression and loneliness.

Interestingly, although the Pennsylvania study reveals that we do have less FOMO when we reduce social media usage, it doesn't explain why.

"Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness".

"However, it is important to note that all social media use is not the same", said Primack.

Despite those caveats, and although the study didn't determine the optimal time users should spend on these platforms or the best way to use them, Hunt says the findings do offer two related conclusions it couldn't hurt any social-media user to follow.

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