Some people may start to come to grips with the fact that social media isn’t so perfect for mental wellness. Others may think that getting on it will give them a boost. But notably depending on how you invest your time on it, you might well feel worse after using. Plenty of studies have found correlations between higher social networking use and poorer psychological health. This included depression, anxiety, feelings of depression and isolation, low self-esteem, and sometimes even suicidal tendencies.
The very first study, at the University of Pennsylvania made 140 undergraduates continue their routine usage of social media. Alternatively, to limit it to 30 mins a day. The participants also provided data of how long they were actually spending on the programs. However, two new studies underline this reality by showing not just correlation, but causation. In other words, putting your own time on social networking actually has measurable effects on mental health.
Before and following the “intervention,” the participants filled out questionnaires of how they were performing psychologically. They had been particularly interested in stress, depression, loneliness, and the “fear of falling out,” or FOMO.
Individuals who restricted their social media usage to 30 minutes felt significantly better following the three-week period. They reported less depression and isolation, especially those who came to the study with greater degrees of depression. Interestingly, the two groups reported FOMO and less anxiety in the end. Probably, a benefit of self-monitoring.
“Here’s the most important thing,” said study author Melissa Hunt in an overview. “Utilizing less social networking than you normally would leads to significant declines in both depression and isolation. These effects are especially significant for individuals who were more depressed when they came into the study.” Hence, it appears to imply that we do not need to cut out social media usage entirely, but just to curtail it.
“It is a little ironic that reducing the use of social media actually causes you to feel less lonely,” said Hunt. “A number of the present literature on social media suggests there is an immense amount of social comparison that occurs.
They reported that they felt worse about their particular looks just in the first condition, together with peers, but not family.
“The results revealed that these young adult women experienced more disappointment with their own bodies,” said researcher Jennifer Mills in a declaration. “They felt worse about their own appearance. They browsed social networking pages of somebody and believed them to be more attractive than them. Even though they felt bad about themselves until they came to the study, on average, they still felt worse after finishing the task.”
What’s also significant to point out, is that making any type of comparison is due to poorer well-being. A really neat study had illustrated this, discovering the link between social networking and melancholy has a connection with this “social comparison” variable. And this was true in either direction, “upward” or “downward.”
The most important thing is again what researchers–and even some of the developers of social media apps themselves–have been saying for a while now. Spending long stretches on social media is just not that good for all of us. We may not have to quit it completely. But restricting our time on social media much, and reconnecting with family and friends in real life, is certainly the thing to do.
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