Limiting Social Media Use to 30 Mins Could Lessen Depression

Maricruz Casares
Noviembre 15, 2018

No previous studies had gone beyond establishing an association or correlation between social media usage and well-being. The students were either put into a group that was instructed to limit their social media usage on social media sites including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to 30 minutes per day, with 10 minutes for each platform; or were assigned to a control group where they were allowed to carry on with their routine social media habits.

"When you're not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you're actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life", said psychologist Melissa Hunt, who conducted the study.

Participants were required to have a Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts and own an iPhone. The researchers added that limiting social media usage to "approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being". "What we found over the course of three weeks was that rates of depression and loneliness went down significantly for people who limited their (social media) use". The study notes that while researchers were able to monitor the use of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat on mobile phones of the students, they could still use the platforms on their desktop (except for Snapchat) or on phones of their friends, which could not be monitored.

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

All of the participants were UPenn undergraduates (108 women and 35 men) enrolled in psychology courses. With those data in hand, Hunt then looked at seven outcome measures including fear of missing out, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. It also found that people who cut back on time spent on social media had a dramatic improvement in mood and how they feel about their life. The first volunteers were paid to social networks as much time as before. After a week of baseline monitoring, the participants were randomly split into groups.

The experiment found that among the group that limited its use of social media, the researchers saw significant declines in depressive symptoms. They stated that it would reduce the chances of depression and feelings of loneliness within a person. Younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 have especially high use of a range of social media platforms. "So, future research might expand findings like this by exploring different contexts of social media use".

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